“Yes, you have a butterfly on your back!” I said to my son. He had been waiting for so long and his smile was so big I felt justified in my little un-truth. The alternative – manhandling a butterfly – seemed rather extreme.
The Sensational Butterfly exhibition at the Natural History Museum is the real-deal for butterfly creation and possibly the odd death – they do tend to sit on the floor for a tad too long sometimes – even the keenest of eyes must miss a few.
Children screech in delightful fright with every attempted landing or near miss. One tall, elderly man walked around with a rather big butterfly perched on his rather large ear for a good ten minutes. I could not stop looking at ear and butterfly as the two seemed to merge together and look weirdly normal.
On entry the kids are all given a stamp sheet to follow the life-cycle of the exhibit and it did amuse me that my two were often so engrossed in trying to find the next stamp station that the rather sensational butterflies blurred into the background.
Eventually, one landed on my little girl and we all froze.
‘Look! A butterfly likes J!” In fact my little girl then had one land on her tummy and her head. It seems the day we went they preferred girls to boys.
Many little ones give up waiting and go in for the direct approach; keepers keep a watchful eye but I did notice that usually the culprit managed touch one wing before being caught. The cocoon display, however, was securely shut – no loop hole for cheeky little fingers here.
This is fascinating sci-fi inducing stuff – some cocoon cases hang empty, many are still inhabited, and all dangle in lines. Last year we were lucky enough to see a butterfly emerge from its cocoon – it was amazing. This year my little boy insisted on waiting and watching. He managed five minutes. It is a bit of a lottery.
This is something the whole family can get in a flap about – and if you are not aware – there are moths in the tent too. Big ones. Not the annoying cloth-eating pests that torment many of us.
Options for afterwards? The Science Museum with its fantastic play area is round the corner as is the V&A. Or head into the Natural History Museum itself for some bigger discoveries. If the crowds are in force there is a plethora of cafes in the area to sit and discuss your colourful adventure.
This exhibition runs over the summer and is bound to be popular so book ahead if you can. For more information click here and also check out the five star reader review.