American Museum of Natural History
Are you and your kids fascinated by fireflies and their magical flashing lights? If so, then you should make it a point to check out the new exhibit Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence” at the American Museum of Natural History.
From the moment you enter the darkened gallery you are transported into a world of creatures who produce their own light. Glowing mushrooms greet you and as you meander through the recreated environments, you encounter jellyfish, glowworms, anglerfish, fluorescent corals and fireflies. Through short videos, photographs and easy to understand placards, we learned all about the chemical reactions that produce light and how creatures use their light to attract, repel and communicate with other organisms. Aside from the tanks of blinking splitfin flashlight fish found in the South Pacific, all specimens at the exhibit are simulations. While it would be incredible to see the actual creatures alive and aglow, visitors will nonetheless be wide-eyed at the incredible recreations.
There are many interactive components to the exhibit which are great for children. My daughters climbed into a recreation of New Zealand caves with bright strands of glowworms hanging from the walls. They also used flashlights to pulse out codes similar to ones fireflies use to communicate with one another.
We all walked away with a much better understanding of this natural phenomenon and a unanimous desire to go to Vieques, Puerto Rico, after a woman at the exhibit told us about the region’s bioluminescent bay. The girls were agape as she described the dinoflagellates which attach themselves to swimmers make them glow like a Christmas tree. “Trust me”, she said to them, “sometimes nature is even better than Disney!”
Creatures of Light” runs through Jan. 6 at the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West and 79th Street; amnh.org.
Prior to becoming a stay at homemom, Mina was an HR Recruiter for years. Now her time is spent happily juggling the demands of two young daughters while trying to expose them to the endless adventures the city has to offer.
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