Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Atlas Obscura
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Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion

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


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.

The stolen goods, which were taken in what the CEO called “an inside job,” have not turned up yet, save for some specimens, including a tarantula, that was recovered days later. No one has been arrested as of yet. The museum, which has rebuilt its collection and is still open, is still looking for the missing animals, but the Philadelphia Police Department has not gained any more information. 

Know Before You Go

The Insectarium is accessible by public transit, foot, and car, however there is no parking lot. General Admission is $11.95, with discounts for seniors, children, students, teachers, police, firefighters, and military.

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