Spiders take over the museum!

A brand new exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto proves that spiders are friend, not foe
spiders Are you ready to get up close and personal with these eight-legged critters? (Brian Boyle)

So, spiders. How do you feel about them? We know that for some people, spiders at least make them feel uneasy. Then there are those who are really afraid of spiders—a condition known as arachnophobia (say ah-RAK-no-FOH-bee-ah). And that's where a brand new exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto called Spiders: Fear and Fascination comes in!

As the name suggests, the experts behind this exhibit understand people's fears. But they also think that there's a lot about spiders to be amazed by. Maybe even ... love?

"How about a hug?" (Sean McCann)

And why not? After all, Spider-Man is one of the most popular superheroes of all time. Clearly there is something that we dig about these incredible creatures. The ROM's exhibit opened on Saturday, June 16 and we had a chance to preview it all. And it was amazing!

Interactive and inventive

The exhibit actually features a spider-milking lab, where experts extract venom from live spiders! The venom collected will be used in medical research. (Brian Boyle)

The best part of this exhibit was how it blended interactive displays, beautiful photographs, and live animals. Wait ... live animals? Yes indeed. Spiders are everywhere, though don't worry—the live ones are kept behind glass. This gives us a real chance to study more rare kinds of spiders, some of which are really beautiful. Like this one, the green lynx spider...


Look at that colour and those spots! (Robert Whyte)

The exhibit also features plenty of enlarged models to help illustrate the anatomy and features of these generally small characters. From jaw shape and eye placement, to leg orientation and body sections, you quickly notice just how many different varieties of spiders exist.

You also get to see spider ancestors, hold virtual spiders in your hand, investigate the liar of a cave spider, peek in on the webs of dozens of tiny arachnids-in-action, understand the incredible size difference between some female (big!) and male (small!) spiders, and so much more!

A web of art

Above all, webs are the thing that spiders are most famous for, and this exhibit doesn't disappoint in delivering the goods. Did you know that these animals spin seven different types of silk, each with its own purpose? It's true, which makes spiders like this golden silk orb weaver truly incredible creatures.

(Sean McCann)

Scientists are busy trying to understand how to replicate the stunning strength of spider silk, which is stronger than steel. But people are also interested in using silk to create objects of beauty. The exhibit has one such thing on display! It's a cape made entirely of the silk of the golden silk orb weaver.

spiders cape

The cape's golden colour comes from the actual colour of the spider's silk. (Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley)

Honestly, we've only just scratched the surface of everything to see in this exhibit. Which says a lot about how much there is to understand about these, well, misunderstood creatures! The exhibit will be on display until January 6, 2019. If you're in Toronto between now and then, check it out!

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  1. I don’t like spiders because it’s scary. I like spiders because they make pretty web. I don’t like spiders because they are different.

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