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Bugging Out in Queens

NYHS goes CSI.

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Lee Goff says he wouldn’t have been able to pull off a kids’ exhibit about murder and carnivorous creatures until now. The curator credits the high comfort level with “CSI: Crime Scene Insects” at the New York Hall of Science to the popularity of CSI itself, the blood-and-guts TV show that deconstructs homicides by dissecting the evidence. (He says he’s had only two complaints about the exhibit’s gore level.) In a nod to the CBS hit, the museum’s show opens with a talk between Goff and William L. Petersen (who plays CSI’s bug-loving investigator, Gil Grissom) about the ways in which forensic entomology aids police. “Insects play very significant roles as decomposers,” says Goff. “All you have to know how to do is listen to them.” Less-buggy visitors may not be attuned to those insect whispers at the museum, but you’ll certainly get an eyeful at the eight exhibition stations, where live flesh-eating beetles, death’s-head roaches, and maggots go about their business. A simulated morgue shows two decomposing cadavers and the crawlies who love them. Kids can go hands-on—not with the insects themselves, but with field and lab tools used by scientists and detectives. Not that it always took much technology: The first use of forensic entomology dates to thirteenth-century China, where the timing of a crime was determined by the number of flies feeding on a bloodied weapon. “Insects were here long before we were,” says Goff in complete deference. “They kind of sit there coexisting with us. We’re really renting from them.”

Through 9/10; New York Hall of Science, Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, 47-01 111th St., Corona (718-699-0005 or nyscience.org); $11 grown-ups, $8 seniors and kids.


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