Art | September 26, 2022 6:30 am

Amsterdam Art Museum Incorporates Real Bugs In a New Exhibition

There are also plenty of bugs in art

Ants and art
"Casa Tomada" by artist Rafael Gomez Barros, part of the exhibition Creeps at Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
KOEN VAN WEEL/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

Plenty of science museums have exhibits dedicated to insects and arthropods. Plenty of art museums feature art in which insects play a significant role. But until now, those two worlds haven’t really converged. Every once in a while they’ll overlap, sometimes to surreal effect, as when Damien Hirst’s “A Thousand Years” — which incorporates living flies — drew the ire of PETA and was taken down at an art museum in Germany.

Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum has taken a slightly different approach when it comes to the place where bugs and art collide. The museum is currently hosting an exhibition titled Crawly Creatures, which explores artistic depictions of some of the world’s least-loved creatures.

The museum’s website notes “highlights including the first drawing whose main subject was an insect, made in 1505 by Albrecht Dürer, and Peter Paul Rubens’ Head of Medusa (1617-18).”

But that’s not the only way in which bugs are playing a part in the exhibit. According to an article by Daniel Boffey at The Observer, the museum has instructed its cleaning staff to leave bugs alone for the duration that the exhibit is up. In the past, a spiderweb might be swept away by custodians; for now, however, the spiders — and other many-legged creatures — will get a little breathing room.

The moratorium on cleaning up spiderwebs began three months ago, at the request of one of the artists featured in the show, Tomás Saraceno. Crawly Creatures is set to open on September 30, and will run through January 15 of next year.