Daniella Garcia-Loos Almeida/Sun Contributor

April 20, 2022

New Six Legged Science Exhibit at the Museum of the Earth Highlights Insect Diversity and Importance

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In collaboration with the Cornell University Insect Collection, the Museum of the Earth opened a new exhibit on March 28 called “Six-Legged Science: Unlocking the Secrets of the Insect World”. 

The exhibit was developed by Corrie Moreau, Jason Dombroskie, various CUIC students and researchers along with the help of a National Science Foundation grant. 

“The reason we wanted to open this exhibit was to highlight the diversity and importance of insects in the environment,” Moreau, curator of the CUIC and professor of entomology, said. “We also wanted to share the active research happening in the Cornell University Insect Collection and how it functions as a local to global research resource.” 

The CUIC has over seven million specimens with over 200,000 species of insects, making it one of the world’s top entomological collections. The Paleontological Research Institution, one of the collaborators of this exhibit, established the Museum of the Earth to give the general public knowledge about how the world around them works, past and present. 

“This was a mutualistic collaboration between the CUIC and PRI and the end result speaks for itself,” Domborskie, Manager of the CUIC and Coordinator of the Insect Diagnostic Lab, said. “We were able to showcase the research of numerous Cornell researchers and show the actual specimens behind that research.”

Insects are the most diverse group of animals, which the exhibit displays through its colorful array of specimens and activities. This exhibit teaches people –– from children to adults –– about the need for insects in the environment and human society. There is information about invasive insects and their environmental impacts, Entomophagy, which is the practice of eating insects, and much more. 

“Many people think of insects as pests or maybe pollinators, but there is so much more to these small animals that have a big impact,” Moreau said. “If all the insects disappeared tomorrow, humans and many other organisms would also disappear pretty quickly.” 

The exhibit showcases the importance of insects worldwide with hundreds of pinned insects on display alongside live insects, typical field collection tools and other hands-on activities. These displays and activities help the audience learn about how diverse insects can be and how humans interact with them. 

One of the more notable interactive sections is where you can pull collection cases from a museum cabinet directly from the CUIC, giving museum-goers the full experience of insect work. There are also fun activities for children beginning to discover insects and the natural world. 

“The whole exhibit tells a narrative of not only how amazing insects are but how important the CUIC is for researchers studying everything from conservation to invasive species to physics,”  Dombroskie said. “Ultimately, I hope that this exhibit will inspire everyone to learn more about the animals that rule the land.”

The Cornell community can experience the exhibit at PRI’s Museum of the Earth from now until Dec. 2022.