200 Central Park West
Upper West Side, NY 10024
Description: The American Museum of Natural History announces Spiders Alive!, a new exhibition about the fascinating and complex world of spiders. For centuries, spiders have inspired mythmakers from Ovid to E. B. White to the creators of the eponymous superhero, but their actual role in diverse ecosystems around the globe is just as captivating. Among the most versatile animals on the planet, spiders inhabit every continent but Antarctica and are able to survive in environments that range from deserts to rainforests to crowded cities.
"Spiders Alive! continues a tradition of museum exhibitions that bring people, especially children and families, face-to-face with ambassadors from the natural world," says Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History. "In this exhibition, as in previous popular presentations of live lizards, snakes, frogs, and butterflies, our visitors will meet some of the world's most exotic and fascinating creatures who have much to teach us about the diversity of life, the fragility of natural systems, and our own responsibility to study and steward life on Earth."
In Spiders Alive!, visitors will explore spiders' anatomy, diversity, venom, silk, and behavior including little-known defensive mechanisms such as mimicry and noise-making. In addition to live spiders representing 19 species, the exhibition will also include larger-than-life models of spiders, videos, a climbable spider model, and fossils.
Museum staff will be handling live arachnids for visitors to see up close, and the exhibition will focus on debunking spider myths, such as: spiders need gravity to build webs, all spiders neglect their offspring, and all spiders are poisonous to humans Spiders are also important predators; without them, insect populations would explode. By one estimate, the spiders on one acre of woodland alone consume more than 80 pounds of insects a year. Scientists have identified over 42,000 species of spiders to date, and they believe that there are at least as many more yet to be discovered.
Among the live spiders visitors will encounter in this exhibition are the goliath bird eater, one of the largest spiders in the world, whose prey includes snakes, mice, and frogs; the western black widow, member of one of the few North American spider groups that can be harmful to people; the fishing spider, who senses prey by resting its front legs on the surface of the water; and the golden orb-web spider, which weaves a golden web that can reach more than 3 feet in diameter. Species from other arachnid orders will also be on display, including African whip spiders, whose whip-like feelers, up to 10 inches in length, help the animal find its way; the giant vinegaroon, which may spray a foul-smelling vinegar-like chemical from its abdomen if disturbed; and the desert hairy scorpion, the largest scorpion in America.
The exhibition is curated by Norman Platnick, curator emeritus in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology.
Venue Description: A museum for the 21st century, with a rich and storied past. It is one of the greatest natural history museums in the world, with over 40 exhibition halls. Highlights include the new Rose Center for Earth and Space featuring the most technologically advanced Space Show in the world, the dinosaur halls, the Akeley Hall of African Mammals, and the acclaimed Hall of Biodiversity. All visitors to New York, especially those with families, should make sure to see the sights at AMNH during their vacations in NYC.
Hayden Planetarium and Cullman Hall of the Universe Ensconced in the Rose Center for Earth and Space -- a seven-floor, $210-million exhibition, research, and education facility created to explore the journey from the inner workings of the Earth to the outer reaches of the universe -- are the Hayden Planetarium, the namesake of its beloved, circa-1935 predecessor, and the Cullman Hall of the Universe. An awesome, celestial architectural marvel created by architect James S. Polshek -- an instant landmark featuring the largest suspended-glass curtain wall in America and the dramatic centerpiece, the 87-foot Hayden Sphere -- this state-of-the-art showcase explores such astronomical concepts as the size, age, and origins of the universe and the evolution of galaxies, stars, and planets through cutting-edge technology and instantaneous data and images.
Highlights include: the Space Theater, offering dazzling space shows, virtual flights through the universe projected by the world's most advanced star projector by Zeiss; the Big Bang Theater, featuring a multi-sensory recreation of the first moments of the universe; the Scales of the Universe, an illustration of the vast range of size in the cosmos through relative comparison with the Sphere; the AstroBulletin, a large screen displaying up-to-date images, news and breaking events from current NASA missions; and the Heilbrunn Cosmic Pathway, a dramatic 360-foot walkway that leads visitors through 13 billion years of cosmic evolution as it descends around the Sphere. Enjoy Starry Nights, jazz performances in a magical setting, the first Fri. of every month.
The Museum is open daily, 10am-5:45pm; closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Space Show Hours: Monday-Friday every half-hour, 10:30am-4:30pm; Saturday-Sunday 10:30am-5pm.
For the most up to date information, call 212-769-5100 or visit amnh.org.
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