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One Thousand Paper Butterflies Migrate to Science Museum Oklahoma as Part of ‘Follow The Monarchs’

October 30, 2018
Follow the Monarchs at Science Museum Oklahoma

A child decorates a paper monarch butterfly with Okies for Monarchs during Science Museum Oklahoma’s Tinkerfest on Sept. 29, 2018. A thousand paper butterflies like it will migrate to SMO beginning Nov. 3 as part of “Follow the Monarchs” coordinated by The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma and local artist Christie Hackler. 

One thousand paper monarch butterflies adorned with kids’ drawings and messages are migrating to Science Museum Oklahoma to spend the winter roosting in the museum’s GadgetTrees exhibit. Collectively, these butterflies make up a traveling art exhibit called “Follow the Monarchs” coordinated by The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma (TNC) and local artist Christie Hackler.

The public is invited to visit and welcome the monarchs to their winter home at SMO during a grand opening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3 at the museum located at 2020 Remington Place in Oklahoma City.

The event will include the debut of the monarch installation and a brief talk about the importance of monarchs at 10 a.m., SMO’s Storytime Science at 10:30 a.m., and activities like making seed bombs with SMO gardens staff, butterfly identification with TNC and butterfly lifecycle crafts with the Oklahoma Gardeners Association from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. All activities are included with general admission.

“‘Follow the Monarchs’ is a symbolic initiative that mimics the annual monarch migration through Oklahoma,” said Larissa Balzer, community engagement coordinator for TNC.

“Kids from all over the state have participated in customizing these butterflies with their names, messages and drawings. From ‘fly to your happy place’” to ‘insects are beautiful,’ the messages are heartfelt and inspiring.”

Just as real life monarchs spend the winter in the warm tropical forests of Mexico, these paper monarchs will stay warm indoors at SMO until Jan. 31, 2019. “Follow the Monarchs” will then migrate to other locations throughout Oklahoma City to mimic the real life monarch migration as they migrate north to Canada in the spring and then back south to Mexico in the fall.

“This exhibit is a fun and colorful way to engage kids and parents in the importance of monarchs and other pollinators,” said Barry Fox, gardens and grounds manager for SMO.

“Not only do we have a demonstration pollinator garden that attendees can visit, but we will also be hosting various monarch-related activities such as storytime book readings, singalongs and crafts.”

In the last decade, due to habitat loss and other factors, monarch butterfly populations have plummeted at an alarming rate. Oklahoma is critical to the revitalization of the monarchs because it is centrally located in the migration path.

TNC is a member of the Oklahoma Monarchs and Pollinators Collaborative (OMPC), which launched the Okies for Monarchs campaign earlier this year.

“As a member of the OMPC, we wanted to execute an outreach effort to support the Okies for Monarchs campaign that would get kids, their parents and our community involved,” said Balzer.

“The response has been incredible. We’ve already had kids looking for their butterflies while we were working on the installation.”

For more information about The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma, visit

For more information about the Oklahoma Monarch and Pollinator Collaborative and the Okies for Monarchs campaign, visit

For more information about Science Museum Oklahoma’s gardens and grounds, visit