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Maria Merian's Butterflies

Banner for Maria Merian exhibition

In 1699, the German artist and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian set sail for Suriname, in South America. There she would spend two years studying the animals and plants which she encountered, aiming to explore the life-cycle of insects (then only partially understood). Those studies led to the publication of the Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium (the Metamorphosis of the Insects of Suriname), a luxury volume which brought the wonders of Suriname to Europe.

Maria Merian's Butterflies tells Merian’s story through her works in the Royal Collection, acquired by George III. Many are luxury versions of the plates of the Metamorphosis, partially printed and partially hand painted onto vellum by the artist herself. Over three hundred years after they were made, these meticulous, brilliant works celebrate a woman whose art and whose story are enduringly popular.

Maria Merian's Butterflies is shown at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace with Scottish Artists 1750 – 1900: From Caledonia to the Continent.

Events programme

School sessions

Key stages 4 & 5
The art of sketchbooks

Students will work with freelance artists to examine the variety of styles and techniques on display that can be applied to the students' own sketchbooks.

Key stage 1
Very Happy Butterflies

Using the Maria Merian's Butterflies exhibition at The Queen's Gallery as a starting point, children will examine the life-cycle of the butterfly

Key stages 2, 3, 4 & 5
Away with words: A Creative Writing workshop - Travel Writing

This workshop highlights the many possibilities for inspiring Creative Writing about the subject of Travel from works of art

Key stage 2
Art Alive! Drama workshop

Taking inspiration from the Scottish Artists 1750-1900: From Caledonia to the Continent exhibition pupils will participate in a variety of in...

Map & directions

The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London, SW1A 1AA
By train

The nearest train stations are London Victoria (10 minute walk) or London Charing Cross (20 minute walk). 

Visit National Rail Enquiries for times and fares.

By underground

The nearest tube stations are Victoria, Green Park, St. James's Park and Hyde Park Corner (all approximately 10 minutes walk).  

For further information visit the Transport for London website.

By coach / bus

Bus numbers 11, 211, C1 and C10 stop on Buckingham Palace Road.  Victoria Coach Station is a 10-minute walk from the Palace.  

For further information visit the Transport for London website.