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The Gilder Center Opens at Natural History Museum


VI TRAN, HOST:

One of New York City’s most popular museums got a little bigger today. It was the grand opening for the Gilder Center at the American Museum of Natural History. But some people are calling it the bug hall. That’s because there are live bugs in the exhibit. And as Elizabeth Erb reports this is a big departure for the museum.


ELIZABETH ERB, BYLINE:

New York is filled with creepy crawly bugs. So why do we need more of them in the city? I met scientist Jim Carpenter in the Natural History museum’s new insectarium.I asked him why we should care about these pesky things.

JIM CARPENTER:

You could take away, for any particular terrestrial ecosystem, take away all the mammals, take away all the vertebrates and the ecosystem will continue along. Take away the insects and it will absolutely collapse over night basically


ERB:

The new center looks almost like a cave. There are canyon-like arches that lead to skylights on the ceiling. It took nearly a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars to build it. There are millions of live bugs in the exhibit and Carpenter takes me over to see a couple of them…


ERB:

Ooo what’s this guy?

CARPENTER:

Lubber Grasshoppers


ERB:

They’re like red and some yellow on it. Is that cabbage?

CARPENTER:

Yes. Yes, they have quite a diet.



ERB:

Having live creatures is a big deal for the natural history museum. It’s mostly known for its dead things… stuffed bears and dinosaur bones. But they found that when they put up a temporary live butterfly exhibit years ago, it was a huge hit. Even today, the elementary school kids cant get enough of the ants….The museum hasn’t totally gotten rid of their dead insect collection. Behind the scenes special rooms are kept for researchers. Butterfly expert Aga Pierwola pulled open a drawer.

AGA PIERWOLA:

Look at these.


ERB:

So how old would these butterflies be?

PEIRWOLA:

So we um. The collection spans about 150 years. Some of these lets look at the late here. This give me. This is from Brazil. 1945.


ERB:

Back in the insectarium, Jim Carpenter says New Yorkers may even learn a thing or two about the bugs in their everyday life.


ERB:

Oh that’s funny: a typical New York apartment has over 20 insect species. Is that true?

CARPENTER:

Yeah it’s true. Unfortunately. Of course the ones that are noticed are the cockroaches so on and and we’re not too happy to see them.


ERB:

Ironically there are no live cockroaches in the exhibit. But can you find them hiding somewhere else in the museum? Probably... Elizabeth Erb, Columbia Radio News.


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