Butterfly Garden

Walk among the free-flying residents of this warm conservatory filled with exotic plants. Overlooking the Charles River, this tropical oasis offers a wonderful opportunity to get close to a variety of living butterflies from New England and across the globe.

Upon entering the garden, you'll begin to notice the details — size, color pattern, wing shape—that make each species unique. Printed guides with photographs will help you identify the butterflies and moths you see, while labels interspersed among the exotic foliage will highlight key behaviors to watch for, such as feeding, courting, and basking.

The "emergence box" offers a window into the butterfly behavior that most powerfully stirs the human imagination: the metamorphosis from earthbound caterpillar to winged adult. Look inside to see hanging chrysalids transform into adult butterflies. If you're lucky, you might see a new butterfly crawl out of its casing or a recently emerged adult pump fluid into its wings.

In other displays and activities, learn about the four radically different stages of the butterfly life cycle: egg, caterpillar, chrysalid, and adult. Witness some of the ways that butterfly colors and wing patterns give them protection strategies such as camouflage, warning coloration, and mimicry. Finally, explore live specimen terrariums that offer insight into the butterfly's relationship to its animal and insect ancestors.

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Exhibitions and events

Beyond the X-ray

Permanent exhibition

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Activities from this museum

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