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About the Insectarium

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We Are the Insects, a permanent exhibition.
Photo: Insectarium de Montréal (Claude Lafond)
We Are the Insects, a permanent exhibition.

When you visit the Insectarium de Montréal, you plunge into an unknown and fascinating universe.

The result of an insect enthusiast's determined efforts, Notary George Brossard, the Insectarium opened in 1990. It is quickly considered one of the largest insect museums in North America.

After holding numerous events, exhibitions and other activities of all kinds, and welcoming more than 8.5 million visitors, the Insectarium closed on March 11, 2019 to undergo a major transformation.

The opening of the future Insectarium de Montréal, planned for spring 2021, will invite its public to new and unforgettable encounters with insects.

Its mission : Develop positive attitudes towards insects

Like the other institutions of Space for Life, the Insectarium wishes to accompany people to help them understand nature, especially to reconsider their relationship with insects.

In addition to presenting the extraordinary diversity of shapes and behaviors of insects, the museum highlights their essential roles in the planet's ecological balance and, by extension, their importance in the future of humans.

Emotions and experiences: at the core of its educational approach

To make a lasting difference on the way humans see insects, the Insectarium relies on intimate, experiential and emotional approaches.

As visitors wander through exhibitions, they engage all their senses in a transformation process at the end of which they better understand this unknown universe and marvel at its diversity.

In addition, accompanied by passionate and warm facilitators, visitors have the opportunity to get in touch with insects, discover their incredible lifestyles and understand the importance of taking action to protect them. Since 1990, the museum has been participating in feeding the ranks of the defenders of insects!

Remarkable collections

The collections of mounted, scientific or exhibition insects, as well as the museum's living collection, are made up of important donations *, acquisitions by the museum and contributions made by seasoned amateur entomologists.

* Let's mention those of Georges Brossard, Brother Firmin Laliberté and Gilles Deslisle, André Bertounesque, Jacques de Tonnancour and Thierry Vaglia.

The scientific collection

The great diversity of specimens conserved at the Insectarium de Montréal represents a very useful reference source for making entomological identifications. The collection comprises some 250,000 mounted arthropods. Some of the information related to these specimens is recorded in the national natural science database of the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN).

The exhibition collection

This collection gives museum visitors an exciting glimpse at the great diversity of insects, and illustrates the phenomena explained in the exhibition. It includes more than 20,000 specimens, only a portion of which are presented simultaneously to the public..

The live collection

Since the opening of the Insectarium, the live collection has grown to about 300 species including 70% insects and 30% of arachnids. It is undeniable that this collection is one of the public's favorite! In order to contribute to knowledge building about arthropods, these insects are sometimes made available to researchers.

A dynamic research team

The Insectarium team conducts numerous scientific research projects and collaborates with a network of scientific institutions around the world. Its contribution does not stop there: the museum is also recognized for the development of expertise in the field of insect breeding. In addition, the team's in-depth knowledge has earned it the honor of acting as a consultant in the application of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) laws.

In addition, the Insectarium recognizes the importance of citizens' contribution to science and values their involvement. For example, many of its projects rely on the participation of non-scientists in providing essential data for its programs to better understand the diversity of insects and to pilot conservation actions.

A little piece of history

The origin

1985 A fruitful meeting
For years, Georges Brossard roamed the world in search of fascinating and magnificent little animals: insects. He patiently sought out, sorted and identified thousands of specimens. He had only one regret, and that was that this magnificent collection was stored away out of sight... In his basement! In 1985, he invited Pierre Bourque, director of the Jardin botanique de Montréal at the time, to see his amazing collection. Bourque was astounded by the beauty of these tens of thousands of butterflies, beetles, diptera and other insects from some 100 countries. Their meeting marked the first step in bringing a dream to life – the creation of an insectarium in Montréal.
1986-1988 Tenacious and generous enthusiasts
For this dream to become a reality, Georges Brossard, his wife, Suzanne Schiller, and Pierre Bourque all knew that they had to convince the public and the different levels of government, including city authorities. They organized fascinating exhibitions at the Jardin botanique, accompanied by lectures, which generated great public enthusiasm. In fact, a public fund-raising campaign in 1987 pulled in an impressive $600,000. That same year, Georges Brossard donated his insect collection to the city of Montréal. During a study mission to Japan, representatives of the different levels of government were enthralled by the Tama and Hiroshima insectariums and convinced that Montréal should have a similar institution. Georges Brossard had reached his goal!
1989-1990 The dream emerges
The site selected, within the Jardin botanique itself, allowed the Insectarium to grow and evolve at its own pace, while taking advantage of the natural complementarity of the two institutions. Architects, scientists, ecologists, educators and museologists all pitched in. Other generous donors appeared, in particular Brother Firmin Laliberté, who offered the new museum a huge scientific collection of 100,000 specimens. Finally, on February 7, 1990, the Insectarium de Montréal opened, with Mayor Jean Doré attending the ceremonies. During the initial open house period, 20,000 to 30,000 visitors braved the cold to come and see "their" Insectarium.
February 7, 1990 Official opening of the Insectarium de Montréal

Important events

1993 First edition of Insect Tastings, which was held until 2005, then in the summer of 2017.
1994 Public campaign for the choice of Québec's official insect. (1998)

Monarchs Without Borders program begins as part of Monarch Watch program (Canada, U.S.A., Mexico). Program wound up in 2016.

1998 Butterflies Go Free held for first time
2001 Entomology reference website Toile des insectes goes online
2011 New permanent exhibition, We Are the Insects, with over 3,000 naturalized specimens and 100 live specimens
2014 First international conference on entomophagy in North America, “Eating Innovation: The Art, Culture, Science and Business of Entomophagy”
2016 Mission Monarch participatory science program, aimed at getting citizens to help document reproductive success of monarch butterfly, set up
2017 The city of Montréal becomes the first monarch-friendly city in Québec, with the Insectarium playing a major role
2018 First Monarch Fiesta held at Insectarium (with activities and workshops) to celebrate and raise profile of monarch conservation initiatives.

In constant evolution ...

February 2014 International architectural competition for Insectarium’s Metamorphosis announced
November 2014 Winners announced: a consortium of German and Québec firms - Kuehn Malvezzi + Pelletier De Fontenay + Jodoin Lamarre Pratte + Dupras Ledoux + NCK (Berlin, Montréal)
2019 Closing of the Insectarium for its spectacular metamorphosis
2021 Planned opening of the new Insectarium

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