The basis for Smart Butterfly House exhibition was a unique collection of Sergey Sachkov, doctor of biological sciences of Samara University. This is one of the largest collections in Russia – the professor collected it over 40 years, and now it has almost 75 thousand items, not only from the Russian regions, but also from more than 150 countries in Africa, North and South America, South Asia and Europe.
The idea to digitize the unique collection and create an interactive “Smart Butterfly House” using virtual reality tools was introduced in 2022 by Viktor Soyfer, president of Samara University. Dmitry Azarov, Governor of Samara region, supported the initiative to create such an exhibition and suggested to use various multimedia and interactive tools to make it modern and appealing to both the scientific community and all potential visitors.
One year after the proposal, the Smart Butterfly House opened its doors to the first visitors. The region’s head was shown colorful stands with butterflies from the Middle Volga region and their exotic relatives.
There is an interactive table with photographs and descriptions of 100 digitized specimens of butterflies from the collection of Sergey Sachkov. There are plans to fully digitize the professor’s collection. The Smart Butterfly House also has a laboratory and lecture space with microscopes, through which visitors can examine insects in detail. Here you can watch lectures and scientific films.
The new space also exhibits live butterflies – the rooms have the required constant temperature and humidity to maintain the life of the lepidopterids and their larvae. Inside, on racks, there are terrariums for pupae and caterpillars.
The Smart Butterfly House also has an extensive VR zone which helps visitors immerse themselves in the virtual world of the flying beauties. With virtual reality glasses on, you can get right into the Samara Bow without leaving the room! You can also “travel” between locations and observe butterflies in their natural habitat, be it the steppes of Samara or even the tropical forests. An avatar inside the virtual reality will tell what butterflies you are looking at, where they live, and how they differ from their counterparts.
The head of the region was shown all possibilities of the VR space, and even introduced to a live huge exotic butterfly – the Attakus Atlas which lives in Southeast Asia.
“Amazing!” Dmitry Azarov commented his impression of the Smart Butterfly House. “There is colossal potential for tourist attraction. I heartily thank Professor Sergey Anatolievich Sachkov for his work.”
“A fabulous picture has been created here – it’s colossal!” added Gennady Kotelnikov, an academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences and chairman of the Samara Provincial Duma. “It’s beautiful, informative. Schoolchildren, students, pensioners, families with children should be invited here.”
The head of the region instructed the university administration to think through a convenient mechanism of access to the Smart Butterfly House for all residents and guests of the city – and for different categories of citizens.
The unique collection of butterflies by Sergey Sachkov, doctor of biological sciences of Samara University, was collected during more than 40 years. It contains about 75 thousand specimens from different regions of Russia, as well as from more than 150 countries of Africa, North and South America, South Asia and Europe. The exhibits were collected both by the scientist himself and by his colleagues during expeditions. The collection is registered and listed in the Rosprirodnadzor registry. It is currently used for scientific research and as a demonstration material for students during classes. Russian and foreign specialists come to Samara University to study the collection by Sergey Sachkov.
The Smart Butterfly House combines both traditional museum technology (a demonstration of the collection and insectarium) and modern digital technology (digital catalog of butterflies, creation of unique 3D models of butterflies of the Samara region with elements of augmented reality: the flight of a butterfly and information about its characteristics, habitat, conservation status).
More information about the Smart Butterfly House can be found at the website.
Photo: Olesya Orina, Yulia Rubtsova