Bug exhibit

Took to lunch yesterday at Sam’s Deli downtown with a couple museum chums of mine, one of whom works a few blocks away at the Royal BC. Had the special: tomato soup with egg sandwich, of which I only received one half of (the sandwich) from the counter girl. Fairly tasty nonetheless. Strolled back to the museum with said friend, who was on lunch, and who got us (I and other museum buddy) pro bono access to the premises.
So checked out the new Bug Exhibit, which a two-story poster outside had informed us – beneath the RBCM slogan Where the Past Lives – would feature Giant Robotic Insects (in 50’s-era comic book font). Expected cheesy hydraulic bugs behind velvet ropes and got exactly that. But soon found myself both compelled and in creeping unease of the 25-foot grasshoppers with expanding wings and hinged legs that dangled above your head, and esp. the praying mantis and its spiked nut-cracker arms and rubberized flesh. The label nearby informs that when male mantises approach a potential female mate, they must do so with caution, as either loving or being eaten for dinner, or both, could result.
It helped (didn’t help?) that the room’s illumination was fine-art dark, with fern-patterned spotlights projecting prehistoric landscapes on the black walls. Beyond a temporary partition moaned the sounds of high-powered electric drills and sanders as the museum installed a new exhibit. And although the giant moth and exquisite butterfly displays were informative and even pretty, I thought less, imagined worse and chewed my fingers more while pondering the household spiders display, or the posters of black widows and world-record cobwebs. Even the carnival themed interactive stations: disembodied heads of dragon flies and mosquitoes mounted like hunting trophies, where you push a button and the 100x-scale mosquito plunges a long metal straw into a platform of magnified human flesh, caused an uneasiness in my knees. Upon activation, the fly head would retract two hoof-like claws in front of its “mouth” then open them again to unroll a glossy, forked, rubber tongue. It was somewhat HR Geiger in design and had the over-the-top, organic, anthropomorphic quality of a Cronenberg film. I soon fled the exhibit with stomach cramps and a shortness of breath.

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