For those crawling the web in search of family-friendly summer activities in New York City, the American Museum of Natural History’s Spiders Alive exhibit, may be just the thing to scratch that itch. The exhibit, open from July 4 until November 29, 2015, features an assortment of spiders and scorpions and offers a fascinating perspective that can open the mind of even the staunchest arachnophobe.
With over 45,300 known species of spiders in existence and over 2000 discovered just within the last 2 years, the sampler offered by the museum hardly encompasses the full spectrum, but can certainly help one to appreciate the diversity and fascinating characteristics of the surprisingly misunderstood arachnid.
Many realize that spiders are not insects, but members of the class Arachnida, some may even know that scorpions are classified as the same, but with living specimens of arachnids such as the small and notorious black widow, acetic acid-shooting giant vinegaroon and the prodigiously sized goliath bird eater and a mind-boggling number of facts; the exhibit is certain to appeal to even the most seasoned arachnophile.
Originally curated by Norman Platnick, curator emeritus in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, the exhibition is now supervised by Lorenzo Prendini, curator in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology. The cost of the exhibit is included in the price of admission and allows guests to encounter the spiders up close, live, dead, molted or most importantly if you’re a kid; on a 50x climbable model and in the newly opened Spiders Alive themed gift shop.
The museum, which has been researching spiders for over 75 years, gives an entirely new and balanced perspective on the oft-feared, creepy, crawly critters; such as the fact that though often implicated, spiders, according to Dr. Prendini, may often not be the culprit behind many alleged spider bites or the idea that spider silk research may lead to the creation of an ultra-light, yet highly effective form of body armor.
Though there is rarely a shortage of worthwhile attractions at the AMNH, those who go to see the scorpions can be sure that they will rock them like a hurricane.
Photo by Eric Lederman