Imagine stepping into a tropical world of lush greenery populated by hundreds of gorgeous and fascinating butterflies and moths. You would either be dreaming … or in the Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History!
The Florida Museum of Natural History, located on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, is over 120 years old. Their collections contain more than 34 million specimens and artifacts.
Permanent exhibits at the museum include a focus on the ancient Calusa people of South Florida and an extensive and internationally acclaimed fossil collection. The Discovery Zone contains some fascinating collections and hands-on learning experiences.
One of the museum’s most popular attractions, however, is the Butterfly Rainforest.
The Florida Museum’s Butterfly Rainforest is a 6,400-square-foot home to at least 1,000 live moths and butterflies. More than 50 different species are here at any given time. Watch as they flutter from plant to plant, sun themselves on a leaf, nibble on fruit, and dance in mid air.
The Butterfly Rainforest exhibit is an enclosed, outdoor space attached to the museum. The plants, running water, careful landscaping, and open air provide a more natural rainforest habitat. The space also contains a variety of other live creatures, including birds, fish, and turtles.
The butterflies and moths seen in the exhibit have very short life spans compared to you or I, living only two to five weeks. The flowering plants seen in the enclosure grow and are changed out, too. Consequently, each visit to the Butterfly Rainforest offers a unique world full of new discoveries.
Indoor Butterfly Exhibits
Butterfly and moth fans will be happy to know that the museum also has one of the largest Lepidoptera collections in the world, at more than 10 million specimens. Don’t worry, though – they have room for double that!
One of the most exciting parts of the indoor exhibit is the rearing lab. The rearing lab is where the museum staff watch over newly arrived moth and butterfly pupae. Hundreds of new pupae arrive each week to be reared in the lab’s large window cases. With a little luck and patience, you may be able to watch as a beautiful new butterfly is born!
The nearly three stories high Wall of Wings will surely draw your attention, as well. It showcases the museum’s enormous collection of thousands of specimens and photographs. More than just beautiful, the museum’s Lepidoptera collection has been instrumental in countless research studies. The work done here directly contributes to a greater understanding and appreciation of our natural world.
The Florida Museum of Natural History
University of Florida, 3215 Hull Rd, Gainesville, FL 32611
Open 7 days a week, 10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday, 1pm to 5pm, Sundays.
The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
The Florida Museum of Natural History also hosts a number of temporary exhibits beyond those already mentioned. Though there is a cover charge for featured exhibits and the Butterfly Rainforest, General Admission to the museum is free.
Gainesville Area Lodging
Our North Florida B&B, Hampton Lake Bed and Breakfast, is located on the shores of a beautiful, natural cypress lake. Despite this seemingly remote location, we are just a half-hour’s drive from the museum at the University of Florida. Our convenient location puts Gators’ games, the Gainesville Regional Airport, and so much more at your fingertips. Meanwhile, you get to enjoy 180 feet of waterfront and a dock that’s perfect for fishing, swimming, and soaking up spectacular sunsets. Book your stay at Hampton Lake Bed & Breakfast today!