UF will soon have a butterfly house

This month, construction gets under way on McGuire Hall, which will house a tropical butterfly house where the public can walk among thousands of butterflys.

(Florida Museum of Natural History and the Harn)
Published: Thursday, January 9, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 9, 2003 at 1:04 a.m.


Open house, open concert on Saturday

  • What: UF's 150th Celebration Cultural Plaza Event, including an open house for the Phillips Center, Museum of Natural History and Harn Museum. Also, a concert of '50s music by Flash Cadillac at the Phillips Center.
  • When: Open house is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, concert is at 8 p.m.
  • Where: SW 34th Street and Hull Road, UF campus.
  • Tickets: Open house is free and open to the public; admission to concert is $1.50 (392-2787).

  • The new year is off to an exciting start for the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Harn Museum of Art.
    Construction will begin soon on two multi-million-dollar structures - including the University of Florida's first-ever public butterfly house, as well as a new wing at the art museum.
    This month, construction gets under way on McGuire Hall, which will house the McGuire Institute for Biodiversity, the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Environmental Research, as well as a tropical butterfly house, where the public can walk among thousands of butterflies.
    Next door at the Harn, ground will be broken for a 20,000-square-foot addition that will include an upscale café with elaborate gardens and water displays.
    The new pavilion is being named in honor of Mary Ann Harn Cofrin, daughter of the late Samuel P. Harn, for whom the museum is named.
    The new structures, located near the intersection of Hull Road and SW 34th Street, will be connected by a series of terraces and waterways. Kha Le-Huu, architect for The Harn in the late 1980s, designed the new buildings and gardens.
    When complete, McGuire Hall will have almost 39,000 square feet of space dedicated to ecological research, and it will house one of the largest collections of Lepidoptera, or butterfly and moth specimens, in the world.
    A living rain forest display will incorporate a "screened enclosure with a living vivarium, which will be having live butterfly displays," says James Schlachta, project manager for McGuire Hall.
    The 6,400-square-foot butterfly house will be enclosed with stainless steel-wire mesh and will have heated walkways and water systems to keep the butterflies and tropical specimens warm in the winter months.
    According to Schlachta, UF's house will have a more "environmentally sensitive design" than other butterfly houses, since temperatures in Gainesville are conducive to tropical vegetation and wildlife thriving most of the year. Rather than spend money on air-conditioning a greenhouse for a majority of months, UF will heat the butterfly house via a radiant heating system during Gainesville's short winter.
    According to Dr. Thomas Emmel, director of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera Research, the public exhibit will be "complete with waterfalls and streams . . . butterflies, birds, fish, and even reptiles and will be a model 'working' facility for functional study of the behavior, physiology and ecology of the components of the rain forest systems."
    McGuire Hall is being built thanks to two gifts totaling $7.2 million from the William W. McGuire and Nadine M. McGuire Family Foundation, as well as a $4.2 million grant from the Alec Courtelis Facilities Enhancement Challenge Grant Program. Construction is expected to be completed in the fall.
    The Mary Ann Harn Cofrin Pavilion will be constructed with a $3.2 million donation from Dr. and Mrs. David Cofrin.
    The new wing, which should be completed by the end of 2004, will provide additional exhibition space, primarily for sculpture, but "we've recently been thinking about the possibility of having some large paintings . . . and also video installations, because video is such a major medium for artists these days," says Rebecca Nagy, director of the Harn.
    The new structure will also include two new classrooms in which the public, especially children, can create art of their own.
    "The idea is that you could easily have a hands-on art class for 25 people in either one of those spaces," explains Nagy.
    "The exciting development is that there will be an outdoor plaza that opens off the café of (the Harn's) new wing that will be shared by visitors to both museums," Nagy says.
    The new plaza will also include an outdoor rotunda, where several camellia bushes that were planted decades ago by the Harn family will be transplanted. Samuel Harn served as national secretary of the American Camellia Society.
    The Harn addition is scheduled for completion in late 2004, says Kimberly Rhoden, director of Marketing and Public Relations.

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