Museum open Weds–Mon, Sea Center on Stearns Wharf open daily; both 10:00 AM–5:00 PM
May 19, 2021

Butterfly Pavilion at SB Museum of Natural History Opens Memorial Day Weekend

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is thrilled to announce the opening of its beloved summer exhibit Butterflies Alive! on Saturday, May 29 in the Sprague Butterfly Pavilion. Featuring 1,000 live butterflies, the exhibit will be open through Monday, September 6. The Museum’s indoor and outdoor exhibits are open Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and reservations are required for admission at

One of the Museum’s most popular exhibits, Butterflies Alive! features a dazzling variety of butterflies, from local favorites like the Monarch to exotic varieties like swallowtails, longwings, Gulf Fritillaries, and Malachites. Various butterfly species cycle through the pavilion throughout the summer, so no two visits are the same.

Beautiful flowers and foliage provide butterflies with plenty of nectar and roosting space. In this tranquil garden atmosphere, guests can discuss butterfly behavior and biology with trained volunteer interpreters. If the record number of people interested in joining the Butterflies Alive! volunteer team is anything to go by, the pavilion is going to be a particularly popular place this summer.

Last year, the Museum’s indoor exhibits were closed during Butterflies Alive! but this year, with indoor exhibits open concurrently, guests can see pavilion-bound butterflies emerge from their chrysalides in the Santa Barbara Gallery’s emergence chamber. Those interested in more behind-the-scenes peeks can check out the video series that followed last year’s butterflies from pupae to pavilion. The full series hosted by Butterfly Pavilion Senior Manager Kim Zsembik is available at and features—in addition to close-up views of every stage of the butterfly life cycle—guest appearances by the Museum’s entomologist and a Q&A with Zsembik about what it’s like to work with butterflies.

“We are excited to invite Members and guests back to our Butterfly Pavilion this summer. After so much positive feedback last year, we’ve kept our socially distant pavilion similar to 2020, allowing families and guests to peacefully explore the pavilion in nine butterfly zones. Guest favorites like Malachite and swallowtail butterflies are not to be missed,” shared Zsembik.

The Museum currently requires online reservations to limit the number of guests on campus at one time. Although face mask guidelines are quickly changing, face masks are currently required for anyone three years or older and must cover your nose and mouth at all times while on Museum property indoors and outdoors.

Those interested in helping the butterflies have a wonderful stay at the Museum this summer are invited to sponsor a butterfly. Opportunities range from $50 to $10,000 and sponsorship includes recognition on the exhibit’s Wall of Wings.

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