Permanent Exhibits

Live Insect Galleries

Get up close to exotic live insects, various arthropods and other critters in our Live Insect Gallery! Insects may be small in size, but they play a crucial role in the ecosystem. There are over 1 million terrestrial arthropod species that play important roles in pollinating flowers, aerating soil, decomposing dead organic material, and controlling insects and plant pests.

Animals on exhibit include: Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, Giant African Millipedes, Giant Cave Cockroaches, Walking Sticks, Rose-Haired Tarantula, Giant African Landsnails and more!

Moths Magnified

These larger-than-life photos by Ottawa photographer Jim des Rivières evokes a new appreciation for the beauty and ecological significance of Ontario’s moths. Moths play an essential role in our ecosystem and without them, many plants would not be pollinated, and countless animals like birds and bats would starve. Each photo in the exhibition showcases an Ontario moth that has been magnified to reveal breathtaking details in colour and pattern that would have otherwise been hidden from the naked eye.

Leafcutter Ants

Leafcutter Ants are considered to be one of the most highly evolved animals on earth with their complex societies, and they are considered to be a “superorganism” that consists of millions of
individuals working together as one unit. They cut leaves to grow fungus gardens in their underground nests; the fungus is food for the young ants (adults primarily feed on nectar or sap for energy). Leafcutter ants are considered nature’s original agricultural farmers.

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Past Exhibits

Butterflies of India & South Asia

Sept 25, 2017 – Jan 7, 2018

A special exhibition of Butterflies of India & South Asia. Butterflies to look for include the Lime Swallowtail (Papilio demoleus), the Blue Clipper (Parthenos sylvia), the Malay Cruiser (Vindula dejone), and many more. This special exhibition of free flying Indian and South Asian butterflies is in conjunction with Ornamenting the Ordinary: Crafts of South Asia, a travelling exhibit from the Royal Ontario Museum, on display in the galleries. CLICK HERE for a guide to Butterflies of India & South Asia.

Ornamenting the Ordinary: Crafts of South Asia

Ornamenting the Ordinary: Crafts of South Asia, on loan from the Royal Ontario Museum

Sept 25, 2017 – Jan 7, 2018

On loan from the Royal Ontario Museum, Ornamenting the Ordinary: Crafts of South Asia showcases the artistic styles, craftsmanship, and craft traditions of South Asia’s many culturally diverse regions. This newest addition to the roster of travelling exhibitions also explores the interaction between South Asia and the rest of the world, and how this interaction affected the craft industries.

Butterflies of Egypt

Butterflies of Egypt and East Africa

May 1 – Sept 15, 2017

A special exhibition of Butterflies of Egypt and East Africa. Butterflies to look for include the Black Swordtail (Graphium colonna), the Pearl Emperor (Charaxes varanes), the Blue Pansy (Junonia oenone), and many more. Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory is pleased to be working with the Kipepeo Butterfly Project in Kenya. Kipepeo supports the livelihood of over 700 people and promotes the conservation of the threatened Arabuko-Sokoke forest of coastal Kenya.

Egypt: Gift of the Nile

Egypt: Gift of the Nile, on loan from the Royal Ontario Museum

May 1 – Sept 15, 2017

On loan from the Royal Ontario Museum, Egypt: Gift of the Nile explores the many fascinating advancements of ancient Egyptian civilization. Ancient Egyptians developed sophisticated forms of government and religion and had a rich tradition of art, architecture and literature that endured for thousands of years. Included in this exhibition is the mummy-case of Djedmaatesankh (c. 850 B.C.), as well as dozens of ancient Egyptian tools, adornments and other artifacts.

Live Insect Terrariums


Nov 1, 2016 – Apr 30, 2017

This collection includes images chosen from Lichens of North America written by Dr. Irwin M. Brodo of The Canadian Museum of Nature. The photos, taken by his co-authors Stephen and Sylvia Duran Sharnoff, are akin to modern art, showing the wide range of colour and form seen in lichen. The exhibit also contains a variety of lichen specimens, a touch table for kids, and a collection showcasing the interesting ways in which human cultures have used lichens in perfumes, poisons, dyes and traditional medicine. Image: Crustose lichens on shale © Stephen and Sylvia Duran Sharnoff.

Roberta Bondar

Landscapes of Biodiversity – presented by The Roberta Bondar Foundation

May 4th – Oct 31, 2016

This collection includes 23 fine art photographic images by Dr. Roberta Bondar, Canada’s first woman astronaut and the world’s first neurologist in space. Dr. Bondar is the only astronaut to use fine art photography to explore and reveal Earth’s natural environment from the surface. Presented by The Roberta Bondar Foundation, Landscapes of Biodiversity represents six biomes – Lakes and Rivers, Wetlands, Forests, Grasslands, Ice Across and Tundra biomes.

Bats of Ontario

Listen to the Night: Bats of Ontario

Dec 18, 2015 – Apr 30th, 2016

Objects of human fascination, bats have inhabited the night skies for more than 50 million years. This exhibition looks at the reality of these creatures—the truth behind the myths and fables that have evolved in the human imagination for centuries. The exhibition explores the diversity of species in Ontario, their hibernation and roosting habits, studies flight patterns as well as bats’ fascinating use of echolocation. It also examines health and conservation issues, and current research activities into bat behaviour.

Northern Owls

Northern Owls

Sept 1st – Dec 27th, 2015

This exhibition provides an experience of owls; creatures that are active at night and secretive during the day. Eleven beautifully mounted owl specimens are featured in small settings suggestive of their northern natural habitats. Each display focuses on fascinating and less well-known aspects of owl behaviour, biology and lifestyle.

Minerals: From Crystals to Gems

Minerals: From Crystals to Gems

May 1st – Aug 31st, 2015

Minerals not only come in a stunning array of colours, shapes and textures, but they also play an important role in our day to day life. This exhibit features over 90 mineral specimens in display cases, 4 interactive components and large touchable specimens.  Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory is the first venue to exhibit this new travelling exhibit from the Museum of Nature in Ottawa. CLICK HERE for more information on Minerals: From Crystals to Gems.

Seeds in Disguise: The Biology and Lore of Ornamental Seeds

Seeds in Disguise

Jan 1st – Apr 30th, 2015

Seeds are all around us: we eat them; we plant them; they parachute from dandelions; they catch in the dog’s coat or on your socks; they drop from the trees; and sometimes they even hang around your neck. This exhibition features ornamental seeds “disguised” as beads in jewelry, trinkets and ornaments.

Our Feathered Friends

Our Feathered Friends

May 1st – Oct 19th, 2014

Our Feathered Friends introduces visitors to the basics of birdwatching including how to identify birds and how to attract them into backyards. This participatory exhibition is on loan from the Canadian Museum of Nature and includes dioramas with 23 mounted birds and interactive audio of a variety of bird songs.

Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year 3rd Edition

Feb 4th – Apr 30th, 2014

This travelling exhibition presents the 30 winning photographs of the Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year Contest (3rd Edition) run by Canadian Geographic in collaboration with the Canadian Museum of Nature. The series of large format photographs highlight the beauty, diversity, value and vulnerability of Canadian wildlife through striking and unique natural subjects. Photo credit: Bernard Pigeon of Gatineau, Quebec.

Hands On Nature

Hands on Nature

Jun 29th, 2013 – Jan 15th, 2014

Discover biodiversity! Learn about the broad perspective of habitats, the relationships between species within food webs, and the gene pools of particular species. Particular problems in this era of globalization are the trade in endangered species and the introduction of non-native species, which can have devastating consequences. Fortunately there are people and organizations that strive to preserve or restore native habitats and species, and Hands On Nature encourages participation in these efforts.

Pest: Hybrid insect sculptures by the thousands by Amy Swartz

Feb 26th – Jun 28th, 2013

“Pest: Hybrid insect sculptures by the thousands” is comprised of 12 collection cases each containing carefully crafted scenes staged by Swartz’s unique creations that combine insects with various artificial parts. All of the insects used in Swartz’s art died of natural causes and some of the insects on display were donated by Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory. Learn more about “Pest” by Amy Swartz >

Monarch Coat Project

The Monarch Coat Project

Jan 8th – Feb 24th, 2013

This exhibit features two colourful kimono-style coats made at Holy Trinity High School in Simcoe by 45 grade nine students, their teacher Rosalie MacNeil, and artist/ educator Marguerite Larmand. Each student was given a rectangular section to work on and then all of the sections were combined to create the finished product. Textiles were carefully selected with the Monarch butterfly and caterpillar in mind. Some are natural fibres such as cotton and silk and some have shiny or matte surfaces.

Monarch Coat Project

Canada’s Waterscapes

Jun 1st – Jan 6th, 2013

Imagine yourself diving beneath the Arctic ice into a world full of life and colour! Follow a group of endangered Whooping Cranes to their remote wetland nesting ground in Wood Buffalo National Park. Explore your aquatic side in this engaging, family-friendly, interactive exhibition. Canada’s Waterscapes: Yours to Enjoy, Explore and Protect is the newest travelling exhibition from the Canadian Museum of Nature and its partners. Dive in and find out what it takes to understand and take care of Canada’s aquatic ecosystems. Learn more >