On Wednesday the American Museum of Natural History held a special event to celebrate two events: first, the release of The Amazing Spider-Man on July 3rd, and second, the opening of the AMNH’s new exhibit Spiders Alive!, which opens on July 28th. The event featured a stuntman Spider-Man hand delivering a live spider to the museum, after which Andrew Garfield, the movie’s star, and Marc Webb, the director, took part in a short Q&A on spider facts. The event was held as part of Spider-Man Week in NYC, which is a series of Spider-Man-themed events happening all this week in Manhattan and all of the city’s outer boroughs.
It was a sunny morning as the crowd gathered around the main entrance of the museum. Staff members handed out paper fans shaped like the Spider-Man mask as well as T-shirts promoting Spider-Man Week. Though many of the fans showing up were young kids and teenage girls, there were people of all ages attending.
After lots of build-up and sound-checks, the fun began with a couple of AMNH employees giving short speeches introducing the event and the Spiders Alive! exhibit. The exhibit sounded to be particularly exciting in that it will have live spiders that staff members will bring out for demonstrations. Norman Platnick, the curator of the new exhibit, said that he hopes that by doing an exhibit on a creature that is the cause of so much excitement in popular culture, the museum could encourage an interest in learning about the science behind these creatures.
When the introductions were over, everyone looked up, and up, and up… and saw a costumed figure peeking his masked head over the edge of the museum roof. Naturally, the crowd went bonkers, and got even more excited watching Spider-Man climb down the building from the roof. Granted, he used a rope, but it was still really cool, especially as he did a classic Spider-Man pose on the way down.
Once he got to the ground, he ran up to Platnick. Spidey took off his backpack, carefully took out a live Chilean Rose tarantula, and handed it (safely enclosed in a plastic container) to Platnick. He then ran to the crowd, gave some hi-fives, and darted off backstage.
The crowd started to chant “Spider-Man! Spider-Man!” The chanting paid off, because a moment later Andrew Garfield and Marc Webb walked out. Webb asked Platnick a few questions about spiders, for instance, “How many spider species are there?” Platnick answered that while we know of over forty thousand different species of spider, it’s estimated that we have only discovered half of the spider species in existence.
After the brief Q&A, Platnick and Webb put in one last plug for the movie and the exhibit, and expressed that they hoped that everyone who sees the movie will see the exhibit, and vice versa. At that point, Platnick and Webb left, while Andrew Garfield stayed for pictures and autographs. He was quite nice about it, and kept on signing comic books, backpacks, T-shirts, and even museum maps until it was time for him to leave.
Spiders Alive! sounds like it will be an exciting addition to the American Museum of Natural History, especially for kids who love learning more about creepy-crawlies. Hopefully both this new spider exhibit and the new Spider-Man movie will be great!
What's the scariest spider you've ever seen in person?