Photo courtesy Centennial Museum/UTEP

‘Tiny Tunnels, Big Connection’ opens at Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens

Next week, the Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, at the University of Texas at El Paso will present “Tiny Tunnels, Big Connections: Ant Relationships Shape the World.”

The exhibition, set to open on Thursday, February 13th,  features ants and their unique interactions with plants and animals across various ecosystems of the world.

“We often think of ants as pests and that they’re all the same,” says exhibition curator and Biodiversity Collections manager Dr. Vicky Zhuang. “Tiny Tunnels, Big Connections uses our extensive Mackay collection to explore how different ants are and all the good and bad relationships they have with animals and plants.”

For over 50 years, retired entomology curator of the UTEP Biodiversity Collections Dr. William P. Mackay has collected and studied ants in Central and South America. His work has not only resulted in over 200 publications, but also an ant collection of 230,000 specimens with species from around the world.

The exhibit features over 100 species of ants from this collection and additional specimens from the UTEP Biodiversity Collections to tell the stories of how ants play essential roles in ecosystems.

Visitors will experience ants as warriors, gardeners, food, and relationship experts. Images, augmented reality, courtesy of Augment El Paso and 3D prints of ants, made by the W. M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation and the El Paso Community College 3D Print Center allow visitors to get up close and personal with the amazing diversity of ants.

The exhibit is made possible in part by the Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections grant program from the National Science Foundation to Dr. Eli Greenbaum, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and director of the UTEP Biodiversity Collections.

The exhibition will be available to the public from February 13, 2020 to August 8th, 2020. Opening reception begins on February 13th from 4PM to 6PM.

Full information can be found on the website; for more information about viewing hours or to arrange group visits, contact Claudia Ley, Education Curator at 915-747-8994.