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Montreal Insectarium to close for makeover

An artist's rendering of  the renovated Montreal Insectarium.
An artist's rendering of the renovated Montreal Insectarium. Insectarium handout

The Montreal Insectarium is closing – but only temporarily.

Officials are shutting down the 29-year-old museum while they revamp it. The premises will be closed to the public for just over two years, as of March 11. Plans are to more than double the current space and have even more insects.

“It will be 68% bigger, and an entire new concept totally, and new architecture,” explained Anne Charpentier, the Insectarium’s director.

READ MORE: Montreal’s Biodome shutting down until 2019 for renovations

The $36-million facelift is the latest phase in the modernization of all the museums under the Montreal Space for Life umbrella, which includes The Planetarium, the Biodome and the Botanical Gardens.

The Insectarium was opened in 1990 and Charpentier said it was now time for renovations.

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“We’ve been thinking about it for 10 years,” she said.  “We rethought our business plan for the four museums and we realized we had to take care of the renewal of some of our museums.

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So far they’ve invested over $100 million in improvements at the four spaces.

Management wants the new Insectarium to be a partially immersive experience with visitors actually touching some of the insects in their habitat.

READ MORE: Montreal planetarium seals messages in time capsule until 2050

“So you will have a big vivarium in which visitors will be immersed with live insects like butterflies and other insects too,” Charpentier explained.  “The first part of the visit will be all underground, and it’s all inspired by insects’ nests and life underground, so you will be invited to look at the world through the eyes of an insect.”

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When the museum reopens Charpentier is hoping to have as many as 475,000 visitors, up from 340,000 currently.  With that they expect to increase revenue by $8 million.