A Bug's Life: Backyard Monsters Exhibit
March 12, 2014

 

Ever wonder what bugs might see when they look at you? Your family can get a chance to gain a little perspective on, well, being little at the “Backyard Monsters” special exhibit at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center in Connecticut.

 

Running through mid-May, the touring exhibit features giant robotic insects up to 96 times their normal size, all with lifelike colors and movements. Visitors will come face to face with an animated 11-foot-tall, 22-foot-long tarantula, a 19-foot-wide monarch butterfly, and a pair of giant fighting beetles. Hands-on displays, which kids love, let them take a mechanical insect for a walk, build a bug, learn how insects communicate, make a bug rubbing, and more. It’s both entertaining and educational.

By all means, don’t neglect the rest of the huge museum, which has 85,000 square feet of permanent, indoor exhibitions to explore and asserts that it is the world’s largest Native American museum. It is tribally owned-and-operated and aims to tell the story of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation over a span of 20,000 years. It focuses on the histories and cultures of Native Americans in the Northeast and on the region’s natural history. Highlights of the permanent exhibits include “Arrival of the People” (explaining creation stories); “Pequot Village” (a recreated 16th-century Pequot village, pre- and post-European contact); “Life on the Reservation” (learn what life was like for Pequot tribal members living on and off the reservation from the late 1600s to the 1980s); and many others.

There are multi-sensory life-size walk-through dioramas, films and videos, interactive programs, archival materials, ethnographic and archaeological collections, commissioned art, and traditional crafts by Native artisans. Make sure you visit the 185-foot stone-and-glass tower which has lovely views of the region.

A nice touch at the musuem is that its restaurant features a variety of Native American cuisines to try, a great way to introduce the kids to something new. A variety of special programs, from puppet shows to live animal programs and much more is offered on a regular basis. Check the website for a schedule.

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