Though we're not a natural history museum or a science center, we have lots of butterflies in our collection. No taxidermy specimens here, FIDM Museum butterflies are woven, printed, painted, and embroidered. Our curatorial team has no specific intent to collect garments and accessories decorated with butterflies, but the popularity of the motif makes it easy to acquire compelling pieces featuring this colorful, winged insect. According to our Curator Kevin Jones, "I would never accept an object into the collection just because it has a certain motif. It would have to be fab for a number of other reasons."
Butterflies can be found on every continent, with the exception of Antarctica. Diverse cultures have developed symbolic interpretations of the butterfly, many of which focus on its dramatic life-cycle. Hatching from the egg as a larva or caterpillar, the insect grows and eats until it reaches the chrysalis stage. During the chrysalis, a shell forms around the caterpillar, protecting the insect as it undergoes a metamorphosis into a beautifully colored butterfly. In ancient Greece, butterflies represented the soul, while Christian interpretations use the butterfly's life-cycle to symbolize resurrection. In parts of Asia, pairs of butterflies represent marital harmony and happiness. Butterflies have also been used to symbolize the transience of childhood, and are often used to decorate garments worn by little girls.