This spring the Wellesley Historical Society‘s Denton butterfly collection made its way to all 7 elementary schools’ third-grade classes. The rotating set of 24 butterflies are part of a collaboration with the schools, now in its fourth year, to conclude a unit focused on the defense strategies of the butterflies. The students previously raised painted ladies and released them. The traveling exhibit gives students an up-close look at the Denton butterflies, most of which are in their patented glass cases and were collected back in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Prior to the elementary school visits, the Cub Scouts visited the Historical Society’s Dadmun-McNamara House and had a preview of the collection, which includes between 2-3,000 butterflies (plus other insects) from across the globe.
In addition to the student immersion in butterflies, adults had an opportunity to see the collection at the Wellesley Council on Aging. Spearheaded by Society archivist and collections manager Taylor Kalloch, the butterflies on June 4 were the center of the first of what will be a series of “show-and-tell” presentations.
Kids and adults asked a lot of the same questions, including: “Why did the collectors need to kill the butterflies?” The answer: Among other things, studying insects from around the world decades ago wasn’t as simple as jetting off to another country and snapping high quality digital photographs.
If you are interested in supporting the collection through Society membership or scheduling an appointment to view the butterflies or other items, please contact Amanda Fisher at director@
wellesleyhistoricalsociety.org or 781-235-6690.