Monarchs at the Museum

The primary focus of our monarch gallery is, of course, on western monarch butterflies, but the exhibition also showcases other local butterflies. While researching them, I became entranced by the diversity between different species’ eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalises. 
Most surprising to me were the eggs. Butterfly eggs can be smooth, spiked, or ribbed; they can be shaped like spheres, bottles, barrels, pods, domes, or donuts. We just don’t notice them, because most are about the size of a pinhead. 
Butterfly larvae (caterpillars) and chrysalises also demonstrate remarkable differences in shape and color. Some of my local favorites include the Lorquin’s Admiral, because its larvae look like bird droppings; and the Anise Swallowtail, because its scary-looking caterpillars metamorphose into beautiful adults.  
Wanting to inspire visitors’ wonder at the beauty of these diverse details, I commissioned glass models. Historically, museums have displayed models as ways of conveying and popularizing knowledge. In science models are designed to bring the unseen or un-seeable within physical, comprehensible grasp; they may represent the past, the future, the giant, or the microscopic. 
Further, scientific models made of glass embody the intersection of science and art. Famous examples include Harvard’s glass flowers or Cornell’s glass menagerie of marine invertebrates –both collections made by Leopold Blaschka and his son. 
I spent many evenings browsing through hundreds of glassmakers’ images until I found three lampwork artisans. 
Cara Washington made the butterfly eggs:

Michael Mangiafico made the caterpillars:

Jude Rose made the chrysalises: 

These artisan-made models bridge the sometimes uneasy divide between scientific information and an aesthetic appreciation of nature. 
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