Meijer Gardens' 23rd Annual Butterfly Exhibition Highlights Global Journey Taken by Butterflies to Reach West Michigan

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Explore the wondrous journey of thousands of butterflies as they fly freely in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory March 1 through April 30.

“Our exhibition celebrates the journey that these amazing creatures take to reach us,” explained Steve LaWarre, Director of Horticulture. “These butterflies begin their life cycle in the tropics and travel from thousands of miles before making their appearance in our Tropical Conservatory.”


CONTACT: John VanderHaagen | Public Relations Manager | 616-975-3155 | jvanderhaagen(at)meijergardens(dot)org


Explore the wondrous journey of thousands of butterflies as they fly freely in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory March 1 through April 30.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s annual Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition will bring more than 7,000 tropical butterflies to West Michigan beginning March 1. Butterflies Are Blooming is the spring’s most anticipated exhibition and is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition in the nation. This year’s exhibition highlights the butterflies’ unique journey from butterfly farms around the world to their emergence and release in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory.

Approximately 60 colorful species of butterflies and moths journey from butterfly-rich regions of Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Philippines and Kenya to fly freely in the five-story tall, 15,000 square-foot Tropical Conservatory. At 85 degrees and 70 percent humidity, this balmy environment mimics the tropical regions that the butterflies call home.

Species of butterflies expected to arrive include the blue Common Morpho, whose iridescence impresses in flight, as well as Brushfoot varieties such as the Clearwing, Lacewing and Zebra Mosaic. Likewise, the Longwings captivate with distinctive wing patterns as seen on the Small Blue Grecian, Doris, Postman and Tiger butterflies. Gliders like the Emperor, Ruby-Spotted and Orchard Swallowtails will also add to the diverse assortment.

“Our exhibition this year celebrates the journey that these amazing creatures take to reach us here,” explained Steve LaWarre, Director of Horticulture. “These butterflies begin their life cycle in the tropics and travel from thousands of miles away before making their appearance in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. This exhibition provides a wonderful opportunity for our guests to learn more about this journey and view the diverse beauty of these winged wonders first hand.”

More than 1,000 pupae arrive at Meijer Gardens weekly from around the world. Guests can watch as delicate chrysalides and cocoons are placed in the Butterfly Bungalow, where adult butterflies and moths emerge and spread their wings for the first time.

The Caterpillar Room, located within the Grace Jarecki Seasonal Display Greenhouse, features Monarch caterpillars. Guests can watch as 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 185,000 visitors from all over the world each year.

Exhibition Activities

  •     “Who Am I?” A Butterfly Ballet

Saturday, March 17, 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. or 3 p.m.
Sunday, March 18, 1 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 616-975-3184. Who Am I? A Butterfly Ballet is generously sponsored by Karl & Patti Betz and Jesse & Gia Budrick.
An American Sign Language interpreter will be provided for the 10 a.m. performance on March 17. Reservations for this service are required. To reserve your space, call 616-975-3184 or 616-975-3147, or email classes(at)meijergardens(dot)org by March 10.

  •     Children’s Activities

Saturday, March 1-Wednesday, April 30, daylight hours only
Lena Meijer Children’s Garden
Included with admission
Once you have observed caterpillars in the Seasonal Display Greenhouse and butterflies in the Tropical Conservatory, come out to the Children’s Garden for engaging outdoor educational events. Fly like a butterfly, wrap up like a chrysalis, curl up like a caterpillar, or crawl out of an egg using life cycle costumes and your imagination. Perform your own butterfly-themed puppet show or read about moths and butterflies in the Log Cabin. Search for butterfly and moth life cycle stages in a special Treehouse Village hunt. Ring the bell after successfully navigating through the Butterfly Maze. Become a butterfly in the Monarch’s Migration game. Enjoy a springtime puppet show or story-time; days and times vary. There is something for all ages. Activities vary daily; check the Information Center for times.

  •     Tuesday Night Lights

Included with admission
Bring your flashlight on Tuesday nights until 9 p.m. to see the nightlife in the Tropical Conservatory.

The exhibition is made possible by The DTE Energy Foundation, The Meijer Foundation, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Foundation, Botanic and Sculpture Societies of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Media sponsors are Channel 95.7 FM and 100.5 FM The River.

Wanted. Needed. Appreciated. Various jobs and shifts. Mid-February through mid-May. Contact Amber Oudsema at aoudsema(at)meijergardens(dot)org or 616-974-5221.
High-resolution images available for download here.

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About Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
One of the world’s most significant botanic and sculpture experiences, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park serves over 750,000 visitors annually. The 158-acre main campus features Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory; one of the largest interactive 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 Oldenburg, Moore, Hepworth, Serra, Bourgeois, Ai Weiwei and Plensa, among others. Indoor galleries host changing sculpture exhibitions with exhibitions by Ai Weiwei, Picasso, Degas, di Suvero, Borofsky, Calder and Dine. In June 2015, the eight–acre Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park opened. Created by renowned designer Hoichi Kurisu, the garden features sculpture by Anish Kapoor, Jenny Holzer and Guiseppe Penone, among others.

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