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Spotlight: Blooms and Butterflies

Butterflies-5For twenty years, going to “Blooms & Butterflies” at Franklin Park Conservatory has been a tradition for many Columbus families. Now the Conservatory will celebrate the vicennial anniversary of this popular exhibition by releasing its 300,000th butterfly on Saturday, August 2.


But what celebration is complete without an ambassador to welcome the guest of honor? On any Saturday in July from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. children ages 12 and under can register in hopes to be chosen as the event’s butterfly ambassador. The selected child ambassador will help with the release of the festive butterfly at 1 p.m. on the special day.


The summer-long event, “Blooms & Butterflies,” showcases hundreds of free-flying butterflies whose colors are accentuated by the tropical flowers, which surround the winged creatures in the Pacific Island Water Garden.   To lure a butterfly your way, bringing a small container of sugar water to dip your finger in will help the chances of an occasional butterfly rest in your palm. Before viewing the butterfly haven guests will tour three large rooms filled with botanical beauties from the Himalayan Mountains, the rainforest and the desert, followed by a visit to the Conservatory’s Palm House, which shows off the oldest part of the conservatory.


Spanning from March 8 to September 28, the “Blooms & Butterflies’” exhibition is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Until August 27, the Conservatory will extend its hours till 10 p.m. on Wednesdays for “Wednesday Summer Nights.” During these special midweek hours guests can view a 6 p.m. butterfly release, create blow-glass sun-catcher orbs for $60 in the hot shop and even take a guided 8:30 p.m. stroll to see the façade of the Palm House illuminated by bright neon colors.


As the light show can testify, the Conservatory strives to incorporate fine art into the beautifully domed space. Besides the Conservatory’s extensive collection of glass artwork by Dale Chihuly, currently on display is artist Tasha Lewis’ installation of 4,002 magnetic cyanotype butterflies at its Cardinal Health Gallery.   If looking to step outside of the gallery for some fresh air in the courtyard, through September 21 families can enjoy “Amazing Butterflies” — an interactive children’s maze that simulates a butterfly’s journey. For about 20 minutes children discover challenges butterflies face in their everyday lives and then spread their wings by riding a short zip-line decked out in large monarch wings.


The family fun doesn’t stop there. The Conservatory offers family activities and crafts each weekend to continue the summer-long celebration. Family activities can be found online.


Photo Credit: Sheila McQuiston

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