The Insect Asylum – Chicago, Illinois - Atlas Obscura

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The Insect Asylum

A small Chicago museum filled with thousands of preserved butterflies, beetles, and more. 


This small museum boasts an impressive collection of both living and preserved insects, taxidermy, antiques, art, and other oddities. It’s the work of Nina Salem, who has amassed a collection of some 2,500 insects over the course of her life.

Salem opened the Insect Asylum in 2022, wanting a space to share her passion for the natural world. “I didn’t have a school to learn all this, and I was told it was weird and it was wrong, and that’s not true,” she told Block Club Chicago. “So I want people to have the opportunity to explore the unknown, and to explore their passions in a safe and responsible manner.”

In addition to the butterflies, beetles, and other insects the museum has several pieces of larger taxidermy, including a large eland, a type of antelope native to East and Southern Africa. Many of the pieces in the collection are vintage, and some are more than 100 years old. 

They have an array of hands-on classes where you can learn to pin butterflies or beetles and other taxidermy methods. They have a great little gift shop where you can find all sorts of art, jewelry, taxidermy, and insects. 

Know Before You Go

Hours and admission price to the museum varies but admission to the shop is always free. On Fridays, the Insect Asylum offers sensory-friendly hours with limited entry and no music or flashing lights.

Check the website for hours and ticketing information.

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