Advantages It's a decently entertaining place, and the assistants know what they're doing
Disadvantages It's a museum. Filled with insects. Work it out for yourself!
|Is it worth visiting?|
So, one of the many interesting things that happens when you buy a big expensive all-round Montreal ticket which includes wonders such as the "Olympic Park" and the "Biodome", is that you also get free entry to the Insectarium (and as always, I shall mention not one bit of information regarding the pricing of these tickets, because I like to encourage outside reading). Now, I've never been to one of these places before, although I have many fond memories of the fabulous Porteath bee centre in Cornwall, which is where anyone who is anyone goes when they want some bee-related fun. I assumed that the Insectarium would be much the same sort of deal - a gift shop with some insect exhibits tacked on in an attempt to justify the crafty money-grabbing ways of the shop owners. Happily though, that's almost not entirely the case.The Montreal Insectarium, or in French (because after all, Montreal is run by the frogs) "Insectarium de Montréal", was founded 1990 by an insect collector called Georges Brossard. Now, Georges is an interesting man, because he was a Notary until he was reaching his forties (but wait! There's more!), and then entered into the typical midlife crisis stage of his life at this point. Whereas any other man would decide to go out and buy a motorbike/sports car/plane/Russian bride, Georges went travelling, and his Wikipedia entry honest-to-god says that he "studied the insects he came across with great interest". Yes, our plucky hero went on holiday and spent it watching ants crawl across his veranda (which would presumably place him in Menorca… I've never seen so many ants in my life as the time I went to Menorca, but I digress terribly, please forgive me). Upon returning home, he decided to start collecting insects, which his wife must've been dead pleased about, and amassed a collection of over 250, 000 insects. At this point I imagine his wife got pretty pissed off and told him to stop collecting so many insects because they don't have any more space in the bungalow and it's them or me, mister, so he went to the Mayor of Montreal and asked for a place where he could show off his many insects to the public. Because Montreal is well-known for blowing all their money on stuff they really don't need to have, the Mayor said yes, and the Insectarium came to be.
Now housing over half a million living/dead insects, the Insectarium is located just up the drive from where the Olympic Stadium is. There is a system of transport you can take, a train, which drives from the Olympic Stadium to the Insectarium, but my parents were never ones to waste money when they didn't have to (my dad is a Yorkshireman after all), so we instead made the decision "together" that we would walk there and save our money. It's not a long walk, and it didn't take much longer than 15 minutes to get to the Insectarium. The actual building for the Insectarium is inside a big botanical garden place which is quite pretty, and anyone over the age of 60 would probably love to go for a walk round there. Admittedly, Montreal is a long way to travel just for a pretty walk, but some people enjoy that sort of thing so I won't judge. The Insectarium is in this park, and with one flash of the tickets you get your hand stamped with something that I presume is a beetle, in case you want to come back, and you walk in.Now this is one of the biggest attractions in Montreal, is the Insectarium, and I can tell you right now that this says some sad things about Montreal as a place. The Insectarium isn't a bad place to go to, in fact it's more fun that any other insect-themed museum that I've ever been to, but there is only so much you can do with a building dedicated to insects and creepy things with too many legs. Wandering round, there is an upstairs area and a downstairs area - where the grown-ups tend to huddle together on the benches, wishing they were elsewhere and drinking Oasis - and the way the place is set out suggests that the designers have been to Seaworld a few times. The layout is exactly the same as in one of those aquariums, with each different type of insect given a special zone. All the spiders are together, for example, and the ants, butterflies and so forth all have an area to themselves too. Basically the place is a selection of glass cases where you can play "spot where the insect actually is" with your friends and family, before trying out some of the hands-on activities. Don't worry, mums, because this isn't the sort of place where people make you hold giant spiders. Instead, there are things such as the weighing scales you stand on which tell you how many ants it would take to equal your weight (always handy), or the flashing light games where you have to guess what insects eat what. In fairness this is all pretty entertaining, and if you happen to be a fan of slithery things you'll be in your element.
But really, that's all there is here. There is, sadly, no glass walkway where you are surrounded by insects (like those things they ALWAYS have in a Seaworld), and I couldn't see anywhere where they gave you the chance to hold spiders or tiger ants - actually I think the reasoning for that one is pretty obvious. More annoyingly, at no point do they suddenly set off all the sirens, turn the lights red and get the assistants to run around screaming "THEY'VE ESCAPED! OH GOD, THEY'VE ALL ESCAPED!", which seems like a missed opportunity. Like I said, there is a gift shop, where you can buy all manner of insect-related merchandise, and the prices aren't too awful, considering. All in all, I can say that if you do ever buy a general "see Montreal" type ticket thingy and the Insectarium is one of the places you can visit, there's no real incentive to go or to miss it. It's competently set out, reasonably amusing for perhaps an hour or so, but it's never going to be a highlight of your trip.Oh, and if you don't like insects then this is probably worth a miss.
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