By Monica (Vega) Torres
Article written for miamiartzine.com
Did you ever grab a bunch of fireflies and put them in a jar as a kid on a summer evening, awed in wonder at how they glowed? From fireflies, which are not actually flies but beetles, to deep sea alien-like octopuses, nature is full of creatures that shine. They ignite our childlike imagination.
The current exhibit at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science “Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence,” will get you in touch with your innocent sense of wonder.
Explore a woodland floor with glowing mushrooms, a meadow full of fireflies, a sparkling cave of glowworms, and a bay of illuminated corals, all in the same place: the Hsiao Family Special Exhibition Gallery.
On view until early next year, the display situated in a dimly lit room explores the various species of organisms in nature that emit light from within. The exhibit takes guests on a journey through various recreated settings from forests to oceans, where these entities live, and it sheds light on the magical natural phenomenon. But of course with scientific innovations, the occurrence isn’t much of a mystery anymore.
Bioluminescence involves chemical reactions within the organisms’ body parts that produce light. It is rare in creatures that inhabit the land, and much more common in the water. The deeper they get, the more they shine. Ninety percent of those who live 700 meters under the sea emit light for a variety of biological imperatives: to attract a mate, lure unsuspecting prey, or defend against a predator.
Throughout the exhibition room, there are descriptions of the different species with scientific explanations about how and why they emit light. Some of these species such as jellyfish are well-known to people, while others are very rare. There are interactive touch screens that guests can explore for more knowledge.
The exhibition was meticulously curated by scientists from top institutions. It was organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York in collaboration with the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottowa, Canada and The Field Museum in Chicago.
The museum also incorporates art into the blend. With symphonic soundtracks composed by Tom Phillips accompanying each section, guests will enjoy a multisensory experience. In addition, sculptures of glowing corals from artist Sharon Berebichez titled “Organic” grace the lobby of the exhibition room and evoke the enchanting life found beneath the sea.
Creatures of Light will be on view from Saturday, October 6, 2018 through Sunday, April 21, 2019 inside the Hsiao Family Special Exhibition Gallery on the first floor at the Philip and Patricia Frost Science Museum, 1101 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132. Admission to Creatures of Light is included in all museum admission tickets.