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History of the Insectarium

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View of an exhibit at the Insectarium in 2012.
Photo: Space for Life (Claude Lafond)
We Are the Insects, a permanent exhibition.
  • We Are the Insects, a permanent exhibition.
  • The first building under construction at the Insectarium, in 1989.
  • Naturalized insects presented at the Insectarium in 2011.
  • School activity at the Insectarium in 2005.
  • Aerial view of the first building of the Montreal Insectarium, in 2003.
  • Second edition of Croque-insectes, in 1994.

The origin

1985 The meeting of two worlds
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, dipteras 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.
1990 Official opening of the Insectarium de Montréal
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.

Important events

A number of events have shaped the history of the Insectarium de Montréal since it opened. Premieres, new exhibits and unforgettable encounters…

1993 First edition of Insect Tastings, which was held until 2005, then in the summer of 2017.
1994 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
Campaign for the choice of a Québec insect symbol. The admiral butterfly wins the popular vote.
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 ...

Years go by, but don’t look at all alike! Transformation lies at the heart of the Insectarium de Montréal’s evolution.

2014 International architectural competition for Insectarium’s Metamorphosis announced in February
  Winners announced in November: 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
2022 Opening of the new Insectarium

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