Fun for Kids at Harrell House Bug Museum

Kids will tell you that it’s tons of fun and worth a trip to the Harrell House Bug Museum & Science Shop in Santa Fe.  Granted, bugs aren’t something many of us want to get cozy with, but owners Wade Harrell and Oliver Greer have created a unique opportunity for us to visit one of the largest and most diverse collections of insects in the United States. These experts have been “buggin’ out” since they were eight years old, and now they enjoy teaching us about a world of wonder and weirdness in the seemingly alien existence of bugs, amphibians, aquatics, reptiles, arachnids and more.


Harrell House features Oliver Greer’s amazing Crawlywood Collection of over 2,400 mounted insects from around the world, including gigantic specimens, and those of an extremely rare variety that you will not see anywhere else. Don’t worry, they’re all under glass, but if you wish it is possible for you to touch some of the safer beings on view.

striking a pose

They also have more than 100 live animals, including giant tarantulas as big as a dinner plate, scorpions that glow under ultraviolet light, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and fish, and lizards that remind us of dinosaurs.

Live exhibit of arachnids.

Live exhibit of arachnids (traveling exhibit). But similar nests are at the museum also.

They have a giant monitor lizard too.

Monitor Lizard poking his head up. - Harrell House.

Monitor Lizard poking his head up. – Harrell House.


Every day at 4pm, there’s a feeding frenzy at Harrell House when visitors get to watch as the various meals are “dished out”.

Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays are reptile feeding days. The dish of the day is most likely of the cricket, worm, and rodent variety.

Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays are the days for feeding the aquatics.

Lungfish - Harrell House

Oxolotl – Harrell House

Wednesdays are for the tarantulas, scorpions, and arachnid pals. They enjoy a menu of crickets, cockroaches and other such delights.

There’s no doubt about it, there is a world of fascination behind the entry gates at Harrell House. Entrance into their Science Shop is free, and it’s worth the small fee of only $4 (child) – $6(adult) to enter into the museum and exhibit area to meet these creatures – great and small.

Kids with the museum's special flashlights to shine on the scorpions that glow in the dark.

Kids with the museum’s flashlights to shine on the scorpions in their dark cages.

It’s also fun to get up close and almost personal with the bugs. (Personally speaking, I feel better knowing there’s a pane of glass between me and “it”.)

I enjoyed asking Oliver and Wade many questions, some I’m sure you’ve probably had at some point or another about scary critters, such as Killer Bees, black widows, and brown recluse spiders (a variety I’m assured do not exist in Northern New Mexico to date.) I got the truth behind the legends and folk tales about some bugs, and how often they are greatly misunderstood – mostly because they’re not as pretty as we’d like.

Oliver Greer speaking to an awe-struck audience.

Oliver Greer speaking to an awe-struck audience.

And to think that this is just a tiny fraction of the many thousands of varieties there are walking the earth with us. If you’re squeamish at the thought of bugs, this experience may change your thinking, or at least put some of your fears into a healthier perspective. But there are also some pretty amazing, scary critters in there too.

If you’re planning a school outing, a party, or event and you want a little education to go with your “crawly” fun, Harrell House offers group rates for parties of 15 – 30 people, currently only $60 per group. Or if you prefer, they can bring a limited-sized bug party to your location for a reasonable fee. Don’t worry, they promise – no escapees.

Chameleon - up close. Harrell House.

Chameleon – up close. Harrell House.

Whether you’re a kid or not, I highly recommend a stop at Harrell House Bug Museum…it’s a fascinating journey.

They are conveniently located inside the De Vargas Mall at 552 North Guadalupe Street. Open daily: Mon-Fri: 10am – 7pm, Sat: 10am- 6pm. Sun: 12pm -5pm. Holidays, they’ll close at 5pm. Closed: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Easter Sunday.

For more information or to book a group or party at Harrell House Bug Museum, please call Wade Harrell at (505)695-8569.

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