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An immersive exhibit about glowing animals is coming to AMNH

It'll be a totally illuminating experience.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

There's an immersive exhibition coming to the American Museum of Natural History next month and it's going to be lit—literally.

"Creatures of Light," which opens on June 2, explores organisms that glow, blink, flash and glitter in an immersive setting. 

You'll meet fireflies that glow across the Northeast, deep-sea fish that illuminate the dark ocean depths, hungry glowworms deep inside a New Zealand cave, dinoflagellates that make the ocean waves glow in Puerto Rico and jellyfish that seem to emit light.

According to AMNH, bioluminescence, which is the generation of light through a chemical reaction, is more common in the ocean, where up to 90 percent of animals at depths below 700 meters are bioluminescent. 

Creatures of Light
Photograph: D. Finnin/AMNH
Creatures of Light
Photograph: Courtesy AMNH\J. Sparks

In the exhibit, you'll move through a series of re-created environments to see the sheer diversity of organisms that glow and how they do it. You'll also see how light is used to attract a mate, lure unsuspecting prey, or defend against a predator, and learn how, where, and why scientists study this amazing natural phenomenon. 

In a trailer for the exhibit, Associate Professor Marc Branham from the University of Florida says that it will be a "smorgasbord of the kinds of signals and signal systems" in nature.

"What I find most fascinating about this you walk get a personal experience with each kind of bioluminescent organism," he said.

The exhibit will also feature accurate and intricate larger-than-life models of the organisms as well as the emission of the light wavelength you'd see out in nature. There will also be a massive coral wall that shows blown up, high-res photos of the Bloody Bay Wall in the Cayman Islands. 

"It's the closest experience you can get to actually scuba diving on a coral wall as magnificent as the Bloody Bay Wall," said David Gruber, a research associate at AMNH.

The exhibit first opened to the museum in 2013, so this is the second time it's been shown.

"Creatures of Light" opens on June 2 at AMNH. Members can see it first starting May 28. Advance timed-entry ticket reservations will be available on starting May 19.

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