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The Power of Poison

In a walkthrough diorama of a rainforest, a spider and red plant are magnified 3x larger than life
The Power of Poison explores the biology of poison and its paradoxical roles in nature, human health, and history.

Whether as a defense against predators, a magical source of immortality, a lethal weapon, or a lifesaving medical treatment, the story of poison is surprising at every turn. 

Topics include poison's roles in a variety of evolutionary strategies; countless tales of illness, enchantment, or death by poison in literature and legends; examples of history's most intriguing poisonings; the science of detecting poison and key advances in toxicology; and how poisons can be used for good.


The exhibition features theatrical dioramas, models, objects, interactive modules, optional live animals, and engaging media presentations. 

Wander through an immersive diorama of Colombia’s Chocó Forest, turn the virtual pages of an "enchanted" book to learn about toxic plants, investigate evidence to solve poisoning mysteries at digital interactive stations, and hear dramatic stories of poisonings and forensic detection in a theater presentation.


Key Questions

  • What is poison?
  • Where are poisons found?
  • How do poisons work?
  • What is the history of poisons in society?
  • How do we use poisons?



" of the most theatrical exhibitions the museum has mounted."
− The New York Times

"...exquisitely designed." 
− Gizmodo

"...thoroughly modern." 
Fast Company


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The Power of Poison is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (