Creepy Crawlers? Well actually, “Bugs … Outside the Box.” Starting on Oct. 22, Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences — America’s oldest natural history museum and a world leader in biodiversity and environmental research — will host Italian artist Lorenzo Possenti’s exhibit of gigantic bug sculptures. The show is paired with live bugs and specimens from the academy’s invertebrate collection, so you can see the real deal, too. Come learn about some of the planet’s most tenacious and plentiful life forms up close and personal. Besides, what’s more exciting than when science meets art?
Possenti is a sculptor who hails from Italy and has a natural sciences degree. He creates enormous, anatomically perfect sculptures of bugs and then ships out his creations to exhibits around the world. Many of the astounding models are 20 times larger than their tiny counterparts and consist of all manner of bugs. And, yes, bugs, not insects, because not all arthropods are insects. Just think of centipedes (chilopoda) or spiders (arachnids) for instance. Unless, of course, that freaks you out too much. Then just stick to ladybugs, which — aside from being slightly more endearing — actually are insects.
The models are fashioned after Possenti examines actual specimens in detail using a stereomicroscope. Possenti’s research covers not only the exterior makeup of the bugs he studies but also the correct functionality of their joints. Each movable section is modeled and then a mold is constructed and filled with resin. The individual pieces are then assembled, painted and coated in a special ecofauna varnish to give them the sheen of actual exoskeletons. The results are full-on, true-to-life replicas of some of the world’s most interesting and unusual life forms from the common pill bug to the famously massive Hercules beetle.
Come pay a visit to the Academy of Natural Sciences for this show, because it’s sure to be as visually stunning as it is fascinating. Part science lesson, part painstakingly crafted art show, “Bugs … Outside the Box” will definitely prove to be fun and engaging for children and adults of all ages.
The Academy of Natural Sciences is located at 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway; 215-299-1000.