Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Atlas Obscura
Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion is permanently closed.

Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion

This Philly landmark has a giant butterfly pavilion, three floors of insect displays, and withstood a $40,000 heist.  


The Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion permanently closed. Its managers had not paid the mortgage for years, which led to a debt of close to a million dollars. A court ruled against the museum, and the Philadelphia sheriff evicted them on May 30, 2023. On the way out, the managers destroyed the interior of  the building .

Philadelphia’s Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion, founded in 1992 in the storefront of an exterminator’s shop, consists of three floors of insect exhibits. There you will find mounted displays, a chrysalis chamber, live specimens of insects, amphibians, and reptiles, and a functioning honey-bee hive. The other half of the museum is a 7,000-square-foot tropical butterfly pavilion, one of two in Philadelphia. It’s filled with many species of butterflies and moths fluttering around tropical plants under a glass ceiling. 

Perhaps the most unusual things about the Insectarium, however, is not the display of poisons in the gift shop, the H.R. Giger prints, or the large insect sculpture outside, but rather a chapter in the museum’s history. Just a year after expanding in 2017 to create the butterfly pavilion, around $40,000 worth of insects and reptiles—including rare spiders, scorpions, and lizards—were stolen from the pavilion in a heist that depleted the museum of 90 percent of its collection.

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The Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion permanently closed.

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