Category Archives: Kate’s Krit

“What would you do if, like, all the lights turned off and the bugs escaped?”: The Insectarium ****

Kate’s Krit Rating Scheme
***** Perfect
**** Very Good
*** Fine
** Whatever
* Terrible

Today I went to the Montreal Insectarium which finally reopened after undergoing a massive renovation/transformation/beautification that lasted several years. The last time I visited it was probably in elementary school – all I can remember is green and yellow walls, scratched display cases, weird spotlights and tarantulas. The new Insectarium is mature, architectural, and honestly kind of moody. The design moodboard was probably Javier Senosiain’s organic architecture meets bioarchitecture meets earthship: the walls are rounded, the finish is rough, and warm light pools in from faux-skylights. It also kind of reminds me of the cave-houses in Paterna depicted in Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory (2019).

The dark tunnel leads you to the first exhibit (of actual bugs) which feels like some high contemporary art: the smooth concrete room contrasts the organic tunnel you just emerged from. Cameras inside of the terrariums are used to project close-ups of the insects on the wall – sometimes capturing the viewers themselves as they look into the glass. What could be more thrilling than searching for an insect that’s mimicking a branch or a leaf, or eating from a little slice of fruit! After the first exhibit, you’re back in the organic architecture zone: the familiar tunnel leads you into a massive dark chamber with a domed ceiling. It feels like a church for insects, and in the Bug Chapel I am pious, reverent and awestruck. Dozens of glass cases are built into the wall, filling the room with a soft glow. In each display case, insects are carefully organized by colour, environment, or taxonomical classification. It’s moving, it’s meditative, it’s… bugs! The final portion of the exhibition is a butterfly room (self explanatory). If you’re lucky or blessed they might even give you a kiss. 😉

I’m giving The Insectarium 4 on 5 little stars. It only loses 1 point because the entire experience, while fun and beautiful, lasts about 45 minutes at most (it’s not a great idea to leave the visitor thinking “that was it?” in front of the exit). Overall… A gorgeous little afternoon activity, awakens childlike wonder, perfect for a little date with a friend.

Note: Okay, The Insectarium isn’t exactly an “art space” but… are we sure about that? Well… it’s my art criticism and I can review what I want!