The Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium inspires an appreciation and understanding of insects and their relatives through educational programs and innovative science exhibits featuring live invertebrates.
Thanks in part to the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation’s support, in June of 2015, The Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium took an important step toward fulfilling this mission by opening the Missoula Insectarium. The theme of the Missoula Insectarium is “The Little Things That Run the World.” It is comprised of six main exhibits and 18 aquariums and terrariums with live arthropods, an animal encounter cart, microscope station, and various other educational elements. Adjacent to the exhibit space is a laboratory with a window so guests can view the animal keepers at work. Both of these spaces are designed to be USDA containment facilities, allowing for the necessary permits to display a wide variety of arthropods.
Down the hallway from the Missoula Insectarium is a classroom that provides space for field trips, community programs, birthday parties, and special events. Since opening, the Insectarium has welcomed over 7,200 guests and hosted field trips for more than 72 school classes and organized groups from the Missoula area and western Montana.
With a staff of five, an enthusiastic crew of volunteers, curriculum focusing on pre-school to 8th grade, and public programs geared to all ages, the Missoula Insectarium provides a truly unique education experience.
The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation is one of several partners in the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium’s Accessible Education Project. The project focuses on objectives that will expand the Insectarium’s accessibility to lower-income schools and segments of the community, while strengthening and expanding the experience and programs that keep visitors coming back for more. Field trip scholarships for schools and other groups, day passes for groups serving low-income and disadvantaged youth, and community “free days,” are all goals of the Accessible Education Project.
Research suggests that greater learning takes place when a live animal is involved. As an alternative route to science education, the Missoula Insectarium’s programs open eyes and minds to the fascinating world of arthropods, providing tangible experiences and growing opportunities to learn and explore.
The Foundation’s partnership in meeting these goals will increase the reach and impact of the insectarium’s mission by expanding the number of individuals the programs can reach. The Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium also hope that increased admissions, engagement, and community exposure will help lead to the realization of the long-term vision of opening a full tropical butterfly house and insect museum in the years ahead.