25 July 2018

SOME NOT SO ITSY BITSY SPIDERS

EXHIBITION REVIEWS

BY: MADDY HOWARD

Some not so itsy bitsy spiders have managed to find a new home at the Royal Ontario Museum this summer, in the Spiders: Fear & Fascination exhibition. We love to hate these creepy crawlies, but this exhibition encourages visitors to face their fears and immerse themselves in the fascinating world of these web-slingers.

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Spider Specimens. Photo courtesy of Maddy Howard.
Spiders: Fear & Fascination is making its North American debut at the ROM this summer. The ROM also added a little more information about the spiders closer to our doorstep, by including an examination of spiders in North America. Spiders also examines our fascination with these arachnids from a cultural and artistic point of view. The exhibition takes our fears and breaks them down by engaging with visitors in a unique and informative way.

Spiders allows visitors to come face-to-face with these eight-legged creatures. The exhibition features more than 200 live and preserved specimens to encourage people to get up close and personal with some of their greatest fears.

Live Black Widow Spider. Photo courtesy of Maddy Howard.
Both adults and children can enjoy this seemingly terrifying ordeal. The exhibition combines real and virtual experiences, which opens up the world of spiders in a way that has never before been experienced. The melding of technology and information was incredible and offered something for adults and children alike. It also allowed visitors to better connect with the information given and made the experience enjoyable for those who might struggle with the subject matter.

Some notable interactive games included, hunting down spiders in a virtual garden, a peacock spider dance-off, and seeing through the eyes of a jumping spider. A live specimen demonstration occurs daily in the Spider Lab, which is another unique feature to this informative exhibition. In the Spider Lab, guests can watch the Spider Wranglers talk about the different species and might get to see them milk some venom!

Kids try to catch their "prey" with spider-like pincers. Photo courtesy of Maddy Howard.
There are different sections around the exhibition, including "What are Spiders?" "Diet, Jaws & Venom," and "Spiders & Us" to name a few. Each section focuses on a different aspect of the arachnid world. Each section is also given an interactive game for parents and children to partake in.

However, while the virtual and augmented reality aspects are a great inclusion, there is still tons of information available to the visitors. There is a lot of text, which might seem overwhelming, but the exhibition spreads it out and intersperses the information with games and live species, so visitors can engage with information hands-on.

Facts are interspersed around the exhibition, which is a fun way to entertain and educate visitors as they travel through the space. For example, did you know that spider silk is used in heart surgery? Or that spiders are over 300 million years old?

Spiders doesn't just focus on the spiders. It also explores how our culture interacts with these critters and how beautiful these creatures can be.

Spider silk cape made from silk from the golden silk orbweaver. It took three years to make and took silk from over a million golden silk orbweavers. Photo courtesy of Maddy Howard.
The exhibition ends with "Spiders & Us" where visitors can look at spiders in our everyday lives and how we incorporate these creatures into our stories. Webs and spiders are common literary and symbolic features, and are present in many cultures from around the world. This section offers visitors a chance to think about the way they engage with spiders in their daily lives.

Mirror of Dearth. Photo courtesy of Maddy Howard.
Of course no exhibition about spiders is complete without a visit from your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. Spider-Man closes out the exhibition with an oversized comic book for people to flip through, and a display about other Spider-themed superheroes (i.e. Black Widow). This was an appreciated addition to the exhibition and reinforced that maybe spiders are not as bad as we make them out to be.

Your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. Photo courtesy of Maddy Howard.
Spiders: Fear & Fascination forces visitors to confront their fears and to learn about the eight-legged creatures in a fun, interesting way. Through interactive and augmented reality, live specimens and boatloads of information, visitors are able to drop their pre-concieved notions and engage with this new and exciting world of spiders.

The exhibition opened June 16, 2018 and runs until January 6, 2019, so swing on over to the Royal Ontario Museum to hang out with some spindly spiders.

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1 comment:

  1. no gonna lie, the comic book appearances of spiders is what sold me to come here

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