Leeds City Museum's latest exhibition is something people will either love or hate

Love them or hate them, a striking new exhibition of close-up images of insects will make them impossible to ignore.

Leeds City Museum is displaying a spectacular series of high-tech macro photographs of some of its vast collection of bugs to give a very different perspective on the smaller inhabitants of the animal kingdom.

Painstakingly captured by specialist photographer Ed Hall during a series of sessions at the Leeds Discovery Centre, the large, blown-up images show species of insects from around the planet in intricate detail, which are being displayed alongside actual specimens from the collection.

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They include the magnificent Goliath beetle, among the world’s largest insects, whose striking markings can usually be spotted in Africa’s tropical rainforests, and the death’s head hawk moth, which has the unusual ability to emit a loud chirp if irritated.

Exhibition of images of insects close-up at the Leeds City MuseumExhibition of images of insects close-up at the Leeds City Museum
Exhibition of images of insects close-up at the Leeds City Museum

They appear alongside a beautiful image of a bumble bee, whose brightly-coloured, fuzzy bristles help make them vital pollinators for the ecosystem.

Milo Phillips, Leeds Museums and Galleries assistant curator of entomology, has been working to catalogue the city’s insect collection alongside a team of volunteers. The exhibition, which runs to November 14, shows some of the most striking specimens they have come across.

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He said: “Insects are a fascinating and spectacularly diverse part of the animal kingdom and they always provoke such a passionate reaction from people who both love and hate them.

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“What we’re aiming to do in this exhibition is to help all visitors see them in a totally different way, exploring the huge variety of fantastic shapes, sizes and colours that can be found throughout the insect world.

“We’ve featured a mix of specimens from the collection - some that people will recognise, and others they might never have seen before and the prints themselves have been produced as large as possible so visitors will be able to really immerse themselves in the intricacies of these remarkable creatures.”

The free exhibition is part of a project by Leeds Museums and Galleries called Dead Inspiring, which aims to empower young women to pursue careers in science through a series of events, school engagement programmes and exhibitions.

The project, launched last year, showcases the museum’s service’s entomology collection in the hope that shining a spotlight on the collection will encourage a whole new generation of scientists and conservationists and show entomology is a subject for everyone to be a part of.

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Mostly housed at the state-of-the-art Leeds Discovery Centre, the collection fills almost 100 cabinets and more than 1,500 drawers with a spectacular array of bees, beetles, bugs and butterflies.

Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “Our collection in Leeds is truly amazing as are the endlessly imaginative ways the teams on site find to engage and inspire visitors.”