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Butterflies Alive! Another Reason To Live in Santa Barbara


Butterflies in the Butterflies Alive! Exhibit, just another reaons to live in Santa Barbara

Image courtesy of Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

There are so many reasons to live in Santa Barbara. Our beautiful weather, our breathtaking sunsets, our compassionate communities and now our (formerly) semi-annual Butterflies Alive! at The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. This interactive butterfly exhibit invites visitors to the ultimate nature experience at the brand-new Sprague Butterfly Pavilion.

The city’s beautifully cloistered museum is nestled among seventeen acres of Santa Barbara woodlands and creekbed. Always a popular destination for locals and visitors, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History recently completed a $20 Million Centennial Project, updating and improving classic exhibits while enhancing the entire museum and grounds with ADA accessibility. In addition, they have installed a sprawling Backyard and Nature Club House as well as the new permanent residence for one of its most beloved exhibits: Butterflies Alive!

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The new Sprague Butterfly Pavilion

Logo for Santa Barbara Museum of Natural HistoryEnter the butterfly pavilion and you’ll find yourself in a whole new world filled with a thousand live, fluttering, feasting butterflies. The exhibit used to come around every two years until the completion of the museum’s renovation which included the new large, permanent netted pavilion. Even the pavilion itself is a work of art with its swooping steel ribs that mimic the curve of a butterfly’s wings, and its sandstone face carefully constructed from local Santa Barbara rock. Now visitors can walk amongst the butterflies from Memorial Day through Labor Day every year.

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Another Peaceful Sanctuary in Santa Barbara

Butterflies Alive! is presented in a peaceful sanctuary enhanced with abundant California flora. It is a quiet and tranquil exhibit with gently diffused natural light and thousands of living butterflies. As you may know already, most species of butterflies use flower nectar as their main source of food, which is why the pavilion includes many native plants and flowers. The use of the sugary nectar fuels the butterflies; giving them energy and allowing them to fly.

The Museum promises that anyone who enters will see exquisite local species such as the Painted Ladies, Red Admirals, Queen, and Monarch. The newly designed backyard, adjacent to the pavilion, contains a musically babbling brook. The wooded trails bridge the boulder-encrusted creekbed and are awake with birds and wildlife.

Butterflies Alive! exhibit

Image courtesy of Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

The environment is a harmonious blend of meditative serenity and vibrant life. While you may be greeted with the colorful insect species, the museum asks that you do not touch these delicate and curious guests. Just watching them wander from flower to flower is enchanting. The whispering of butterfly wings is magical. The Pavilion is also available as an event venue.

The Metaphor of the Butterfly

In many cultures, the butterfly represents spiritual rebirth, transformation, creativity, endless potential, vibrant joy, change, ascension, and an ability to experience the wonder of life. The cycle of the butterfly in and of itself holds spiritual symbolism and insight for us. Birthed from an egg, the butterfly lives its early life as a caterpillar. It then retreats within the pupa or chrysalis where it undergoes a transformation, and finally, when it leaves the chrysalis it is reborn as a beautiful winged butterfly. The magnificent life of the butterfly closely mirrors the process of spiritual transformation as we each have the possibility to be reborn through going within.

Read: Exciting events at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Prehistoric Forest exhibit

Dinosaur head at new exhibit at SB Museum of natural History

Image courtesy of Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

While at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, you might want to explore the expansive grounds and the renovated exhibit halls. From now through September 2, 2019, you can discover dinosaurs in the wild at the special Prehistoric Forest exhibit. Take a stroll back in time and come face-to-face with dinosaurs on the banks of Mission Creek. Meet a Tyrannosaurus rex, the formidably armored Stegosaurus, high-crested Parasaurolophus, and Triceratops and Ankylosaurus mamas with their young. These hand-crafted moving animatronics spark the imaginations of dinosaur-lovers of all ages.

Year-round, the museum provides a secluded natural setting that sparkles with invigorating experiences. A rich selection of permanent and revolving exhibits is housed there, such as the Bird and Mammal Halls and the Planetarium. The museum also hosts a full annual calendar of special events: from art shows to summer camps.

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About the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is open 10 am to 5 pm daily. The Sprague Butterfly Pavilion is open 12 pm to 5 pm during the exhibition season. Adult admission is $15 for the day, which includes the pavilion. Admission is free on these dates. Annual membership is $75 for individual and $99 for families. This membership extends to the Sea Center on Stearns Wharf, along the city’s waterfront, where guests may interact with ocean life. It also includes free admission to an extensive list of California and national museums. These details can be located on the museum website.

Creating your own butterfly sanctuary

If you live in Santa Barbara, Montecito or surrounding communities, and want to create your own butterfly garden, experts suggest you focus on these plants: lilac bushes, blueberry bushes, privets, sumacs, butterfly weed, chrysanthemums, daises, purple coneflower, bergamots, black-eyes Susan, dogbane, goldenrods, and even purple ageratum. These are all flowers and shrubs that will attract butterflies to your garden. But even if you plant your own butterfly garden, I recommend you don’t miss this dazzling kaleidoscope of color and life at the museum.

If you live in Santa Barbara, you probably know about Butterflies Alive! and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. If you’re considering moving here, the exhibit and museum give you yet another reason to do so. Either way, know you have a resident expert ready to assist you with your real estate needs. Here’s a portfolio of fine homes and a couple of contact options: 805.886.9378 or And don’t miss Butterflies Alive! Just one more reason to live in Santa Barbara.


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