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Live Animal Exhibition Opening in November

June 26, 2019

Living Lab Showcases Not-So-Cuddly Neighbors; Insect Photography Also On View

SAN DIEGO—San Diegans may not want these animals in their houses, but they should want them in their yards. That’s the takeaway people will get once they meet creepy, crawly, and slithery animals featured in The Nat’s upcoming exhibition, Living Lab.

Living Lab is one of two new exhibitions opening in this November at the San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat) in Balboa Park. The other is Insects Face to Face, featuring stunning macro photography from the USGS Bee Inventory Monitoring Lab. Both exhibitions open Saturday, November 23 in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday, and are free for members and included with general admission. They will be on view for at least one year.

“Both exhibitions share the theme of getting an up-close look at animals—even the ones that seem creepy, scary, or dangerous,” said Judy Gradwohl, president and CEO of the San Diego Natural History Museum. “The animals featured in these shows have an important role to play our ecosystem. We hope people begin to share our appreciation of them with a visit to The Nat.”

Living Lab

Living, breathing, crawling, creeping. Living Lab invites visitors to meet more than 30 not-so-cuddly neighbors, from stinging scorpions to elusive nocturnal lizards.

The Nat is bringing animals that are part of our living collection—but usually off view—to a light-filled, modern setting on Level 1 off the Atrium. This 2,500-square-foot gallery is currently home to Water: A California Story, which closes July 14 after more than a decade.

Staffed by a keeper-interpreter and museum volunteers who will invite visitors to watch feedings or interact with the animals on select days, the space will feature animal behavior and the adaptations animals need to survive in our biodiverse region.

Museumgoers can observe lizards, insects, and other invertebrates, venomous and non-venomous snakes, frogs, and a colony of harvester ants. They can also get a peek at the inner workings of a beehive.    

Animal enclosures will maximize viewing space while providing safe conditions for the animals and visitors alike.

Insects Face to Face

It’s one thing to see a bee, beetle, or caterpillar up close, but Insects Face to Face will give visitors a whole new perspective through larger-than-life photography.

The exhibition, opening in November in the 4th floor photography gallery, features oversized photos taken by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Bee Inventory Monitoring Lab. This program develops surveys of native bees, including identification tools like detailed pictures of native bees and the plants and insects they interact with.

While the photos have been taken by numerous staff members at the USGS, biology and photography fans alike may recognize the work of Sam Droege, noted wildlife biologist who heads up the lab.

What started out as an identification and monitoring tool for scientists resulted in a surprising number of dazzling photos that are worthy of an art gallery. Curated by museum scientists and staff, the photos tell a story of the unique morphology and adaptations of insects, especially details that aren’t visible to the naked eye.

Fluorescent, menacing, and even cute. The outrageous images selected for this exhibition reveal an intricate world of color, pattern, and texture unlike any other on our planet. Visitors will see more than 30 large-scale photographs of animals ranging from common honeybees to “cute” cockroaches to regal lace bugs.

For more information, please visit  

Admission and Hours

General admission includes access to all other exhibitions within the Museum as well as access to 2D and 3D films. Admission rates: $19.95 adults; $16.95 seniors/students/military; $11.95 youth (3-17). Members and children 2 and under are free. The Museum is open from 10 AM to 5 PM daily. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

About the San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat)
The San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat) is the second oldest scientific institution in California and the third oldest west of the Mississippi. Founded in 1874 by a small group of citizen scientists, the Museum’s mission is to interpret the natural world through research, education, and exhibits; to promote understanding of the evolution and diversity of Southern California and the peninsula of Baja California, Mexico; and to inspire in all a respect for nature and the environment. The Museum is located at 1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 in Balboa Park and is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM (extended hours until 10 PM on select dates in the summer). For more information, call 877.946.7797 or visit To stay up to date on Museum news, follow The Nat on Instagram and Twitter and join the discussion on Facebook.


Press Kit

Media Info

For Living Lab B-roll and images, please check out our press kit on Dropbox. Please also visit our press kit on Dropbox for Insects Face to Face images. 

additional information, please contact Stephania Villar, 619.255.0189, or Rebecca Handelsman, 619.255.0262,