Susan and Peter J. Solomon Family Insectarium

Alvaro Keding/© AMNH
Discover how beautiful, surprising, and essential insects are—and why they’re critical to our planet.

Insects are ancient and resilient. They are more diverse than any other animal group alive today–and maybe also the most important. Remove reptiles, birds or mammals from an ecosystem and it would likely survive. But it wouldn’t without insects.

Instead of brushing off or crushing the next insect you find, take a moment to really look, to wonder, to appreciate. 

This hall is included with any admission.

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They may be small, but insects dominate Earth in more ways than we realize. Scientists have named about 1.2 million insect species, but there may be as many as 3.5 million, most waiting to be discovered. That’s compared to about 60,000 vertebrate species.

Large dark colored beetle with rows of raised bumps on its abdomen. When threatened, the blue death-feigning beetle (Asbolus verrucosus) rolls over to play dead. 
Denis Finnin/© AMNH
Three honeypot ants (one in focus at front) with swollen, spherical abdomens and about ten non-swollen honeypot ants crawling around a rock. The honeypot ant (Myrmecocystus mexicanus) gets its name from the ability of some workers to store sugary nutrients in expandable abdomens.
Alvaro Keding/© AMNH

In this new permanent gallery, you'll encounter many species of insects and find out about the critically important roles they play in ecosystems, human agriculture, and even human health as pollinators, seed dispersers, decomposers, builders, soil aerators, and more. 

What You'll See

Close-up of a leafcutter ant carrying a cut segment of a leaf against blurred background.
Leafcutter ants have different jobs in the colony, from foraging to feeding the young, farming fungus, and defending the group.
Alvaro Keding/© AMNH
  • One of the world’s largest displays of live leafcutter ants (Atta cephalotes), featuring a foraging area, transparent skybridge under which visitors can pass, and a fungus garden that offer opportunities to observe how these ants work together as a “superorganism”
  • The Pollination Portal, an interactive exhibit that features large-scale models of flowers and showcases how pollination works and why insects are essential pollinators
  • A monumental model of a beehive with multiple lobes of combs, which allows visitors to “enter” the hive’s interior and see honeybees at work on integrated video displays
  • A digital interactive called “Be a Bee” that demonstrates the roles different groups of honeybees play in the collaborative life of the hive and challenges visitors to keep the hive healthy by fulfilling various tasks
  • Exhibits celebrating the many insects of New York City, including a sound gallery featuring Central Park’s insects with corresponding vibrations amd a digital interactive that lets visitors explore the insects in five different New York City ecosystems, one in each of the boroughs
  • A microscope station where visitors can observe pinned specimens of cockroaches and crickets, ancient species that help illustrate insects’ endurance over their 400-million-long existence on our planet
  • Exhibits about biomimicry—nature-inspired innovation—including the ways in which insects have inspired architects, scientists, and technologists 
  • A large-scale digital exhibit that highlights the role insects play in human health as disease vectors through interactive interfaces that let visitors explore by insect species, disease, or geography

Insectarium is a new video series from PBS and the American Museum of Natural History. Join Museum Curator Jessica Ware to discover the wonders of insects you think you know, from flirting fireflies to killer ladybugs. 

Watch Insectarium!

Decoding the Language of Fireflies


In this episode of Insectarium, scientists try to answer the question: Why are monarch butterflies disappearing? 

Disappearing Butterflies

The Curious Case of the Disappearing Butterflies

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