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Flight of the Butterflies, a breathtaking new giant-screen adventure that takes viewers on the epic 3,000-mile journey traveled every fall by half a billion monarch butterflies, opens at the American Museum of Natural History’s LeFrak IMAX Theater, on Saturday, January 5, 2013. The film is the awe-inspiring story of two unlikely heroes that share a common strength. Based on true events, it follows the perilous journey of the iconic monarch butterfly in one of the most incredible migrations on Earth and the determined scientist, Dr. Fred Urquhart, who spent 40 years trying to discover the mysteries surrounding their journey and secret winter hideaway.
What began with a small boy daydreaming about where butterflies went each winter became a lifelong pursuit by Dr. Urquhart, who ingeniously enlisted the help of legions of volunteers across North America, known as “citizen scientists,” to help with tagging and tracking the butterflies. The decades-long quest yielded the ultimate discovery of the monarch butterflies’ overwintering sites in the sanctuaries set 10,000 feet high in the remote mountains of Mexico.
The film follows the butterflies’ amazing journey in what is the longest insect migration on Earth. Audiences are transported into the tiny world of one intrepid creature, Dana (Danaus Plexippus), and her offspring as they migrate north from Mexico and back south again. As the film illustrates, it takes two to three generations of butterflies to migrate north from Mexico through the U.S. to Canada and one “super generation” to complete the migration back south to Mexico. In the immersive giant-screen environment, moviegoers will experience this journey up close and see the evolution from egg to caterpillar to pupa to butterfly, captured for the first time thanks to MRI and micro CT scans, which bring audiences closer to the action than ever before. Significant portions of the film’s box office revenue will go towards Monarch butterfly conservation.
Visitors interested in learning more about species featured in Flight of the Butterflies can visit the Museum’s The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter. An annual favorite visited by millions of children and adults, The Butterfly Conservatory transforms the iciest day into a summer escape, inviting visitors to mingle with up to 500 fluttering, iridescent butterflies among blooming tropical flowers and lush green vegetation in 80-degree temperatures.
The Butterfly Conservatory is on view through May 27, 2013. As an added bonus for families, A Night at the Museum—the Museum’s popular sleepover program—will introduce special activities during the run of the film. The evenings will include a screening of Flight of the Butterflies, a walkthrough of The Butterfly Conservatory with knowledgeable Museum explainers, and special activities including folding origami butterflies; discovering how far butterflies can glide by modifying paper airplanes to make the most efficient glider possible; and learning about warning coloration by creating an artistic rendition of an organism with warning signs. The evenings also include flashlight tours. Attendees will end the evening falling asleep in one of the Museum’s darkened halls.
Flight of the Butterflies will be shown daily in the LeFrak IMAX Theater, 10:30 am to 4:30 pm (hourly) through July 7, 2013. To purchase tickets in advance, call 212-769-5200. For information on the A Night at the Museum program or exhibits, call 212-769-5100, or visit amnh.org.
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