Meijer Gardens’ Butterfly Exhibition Highlights Tropical Butterflies From Four Continents

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Thousands of butterflies fly freely in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory March 1 through April 30.

Photo by William J. Hebert

Two major milestones mark Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s annual Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition: a new title sponsor and a major anniversary. From this year on, the exhibition will be forever known as the Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming, in addition to also celebrating 20 years of bringing more than 7,000 tropical butterflies to West Michigan. Arriving from Africa, Asia, South and Central America, Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies are Blooming is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition in the nation.

Approximately 50 colorful species will fly freely in the five-story Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. At 85 degrees and 70 percent humidity, this balmy environment mimics tropical regions the butterflies arrive from.

“Our butterflies arrive from tropical regions all over the world, but this year, we’re focusing on the diversity and richness of species from Central and South America,” explained Steve LaWarre, director of horticulture. “Over half of our butterflies come from this region, so guests can learn more intimate details about species like the morphos and longwings, among others.”

Included in the species arriving from this area are the Columbian and Common Morpho, two familiar visitor favorites whose blue iridescent color seems to change in flight. Longwing butterflies are another captivating species from Central and South America. Aptly named for their elongated wings, their patterns and colors vary depending on the region of origin. The Doris, Blue, Yellow and Tiger Longwing, in addition to the Postman and Small Postman, can all be found in this exhibition.

More than 800 pupae arrive at Meijer Gardens weekly. Visitors can watch as delicate chrysalides and cocoons are placed in the Butterfly Bungalow, where adult butterflies emerge and spread their wings for the first time. The Caterpillar Room, located within The Seasonal Display Greenhouse, features Monarch caterpillars. Visitors can watch as the caterpillars feed on milkweed plants and after two weeks of tremendous growth, the caterpillars will look for a suitable place to form their chrysalides.

This much-loved exhibition attracts more than 170,000 visitors from all over the nation each year.

Exhibition Activities

“Who Am I?” A Butterfly Ballet
Saturdays, March 7 OR 21, 10 a.m. or 12:30 p.m.
Fee: $5 members/$8 non-members; Free for ages 2 years and younger
Choreographed by Attila Mosolygo, performed by members of the Grand Rapids Ballet Junior Company and narrated by Errol Shewman
Developed in collaboration with Grand Rapids Ballet, this unique performance highlights characteristics of butterflies through dance. Don’t miss this thoroughly delightful butterfly ballet. Told through the eyes of a newly emerged butterfly, the story will captivate young and old alike. With colorful costumes, spectacular music and exquisite choreography, this enchanting performance will provide a unique and memorable experience. Participate in interactive dance activities before the performance and take advantage of photo-ops on stage with the dancers afterward. Register online at or call 616-975-3147. An American Sign Language interpreter will be provided for the 10 a.m. performance on March 21 (Reservations for this service are required, please call 616-975-3184 by March 7).

Children’s Activities
Saturday, March 1-Wednesday, April 30, daylight hours only
In the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden
Once you have observed caterpillars in the Seasonal Display Greenhouse and butterflies in the Tropical
Conservatory, come out to the Children’s Garden for some engaging outdoor education. Enjoy activities
such as flying like a butterfly in clever lifecycle costumes, performing imaginative butterfly puppet shows, search for butterfly and moth lifecycle stages in a special Treehouse Village hunt and navigate the Butterfly Maze. There’s something for all ages. Activities vary daily. Check the Information Center for what is happening each day.

Tuesday Night Lights
Bring your flashlight on Tuesday nights until 9 p.m. to see the nightlife in the Tropical Conservatory.

The exhibition is made possible by DTE Energy Foundation, The Meijer Foundation, Botanic and Sculpture Societies of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. This year’s media sponsors are Channel 95.7 FM and 100.5 FM The River.

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Images available upon request.

About Fred & Dorothy Fichter

Perhaps no Meijer Gardens guest loved butterflies more than Dorothy Fichter. Before she passed away, she and her husband Fred would excitedly await the opening of our annual exhibition. To honor the memories they shared here, Fred has made a generous gift to become its title sponsor in perpetuity.

About Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

One of the world’s most significant botanic and sculpture experiences, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park serves nearly 600,000 visitors annually. Meijer Gardens was recently ranked in the top 100 most-visited art museums worldwide by Art Newspaper, the leading publication in global art news. The 159-acre grounds feature Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory; one of the largest children’s gardens in the country; arid and Victorian gardens with bronze sculptures by Degas and Rodin; a carnivorous plant house; outdoor gardens; and a 1900-seat outdoor amphitheater, featuring an eclectic mix of world-renowned musicians every summer. The internationally acclaimed Sculpture Park features a permanent collection including works by Rodin, Oldenburg, Moore, Serra, Bourgeois and Plensa, among others. Indoor galleries host changing sculpture exhibitions with recent exhibitions by Picasso, Degas, di Suvero, Borofsky, Calder and Dine. In June 2015, the 8–acre Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park will open. Created by renowned designer Hoichi Kurisu, the garden will also feature sculpture by Anish Kapoor, Zhang Huan and Guiseppe Penone, among others.

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