Bug Museum celebrates second year in town

Violet Frus checks out a critter habitat at the Bug Museum. - Seraine Page
Violet Frus checks out a critter habitat at the Bug Museum.
— image credit: Seraine Page

If it’s creepy and crawly, it is probably at the Bug Museum & Gift Shop in Bremerton.

Last Saturday, the small museum opened its doors to guests for a party celebrating its second anniversary. Unlike most museums, the owner allows folks in for free every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“The fact that it doesn’t cost anything is a good way to get people to come in,” said Shae Frus, who frequently brings her 3 year old daughter. “We love it.”

Her daughter, Violet, favors the snakes some days and the turtle other days, her mom said.

“We’re big reptile people,” she said, laughing as her daughter stuck her face up close to one of the critter tanks.

The owner, Randi Jones, said she throws the party as an “awareness event” to let people know the museum is always free and available for parents to bring their children in. She’s had several daycare center children visit, and schools are welcome to take field trips to the museum, she said.

“We’re an educational place,” said Jones. “They all ‘accidentally’ learn things here.”

With 20 exhibits and 2,000-square feet, it’s hard not to learn something about creatures that many people are scared to even touch, let alone look at.

There’s the huge tortoise, Cecil, who is guarded by a small, white picket fence that’s low enough for kids to touch her shell. Across the way is Eddie the iguana, who shouldn’t be touched since he has super sharp teeth.

Upon entering the actual museum, kids can grab lighted magnifying glasses to check out bugs set in acrylic blocks. Several long displays offer up dried insects from across the world, including butterflies, dragonflies and wasps bigger than the size of a quarter.

On the day of the anniversary party, volunteers sat out around the museum to showcase some of the creepiest creatures right on their hands, including a tarantula and snake for closer observation.

Bev Keogh watched as her granddaughter touched the snake on an employees arm. Keogh also brought along her granddaughter’s friend to enjoy the “extra activities” offered on the anniversary.

“It was cool to watch the girls touch a snake,” she said.

Aeva Merkel, 7, also enjoyed getting up close to Cecil.

“I really like the turtle because you got to touch its shell,” she said. “And,” she added, “the face painting.”

Outside the museum, a variety of activities for children were available, including face painting and crafts. “Caterpillar races” also took place, allowing children to pick a plastic caterpillar to race down to the finish line of a long table.

Most of the critters that come to the museum used to be pets, but the owners could no longer take care of them, said Tom Medchill, an employee of the museum.

The largest pet ever turned in was Stella, a 9-foot-long albino burmese python. According to Medchill, Stella used to “be on a perch” in someone’s living room and was never really in an enclosed space like she is in the museum.

Medchill worked the “Reptile Room” on the day of the anniversary to ensure the safety of the animals and visitors looking in on them. He has worked with the museum for a little over two years and said he’s had reptiles his entire life. Working among the most unique critters, Medchill said he enjoys seeing the kids get excited about the reptiles.

“I’ve kept reptiles my whole life,” he said. “I’ve got several at home. I like taking care of them.”

Looking around, Medchill is relaxed in his setting that would otherwise unsettle most other adults he knows. He likes the museum and all its creepy-crawly creatures. But, mostly, he loves watching the interaction between parents and their children and the children and critters.

“This whole gig is all about the kids,” he said. “The ones that aren’t terrified are in just such awe of the animals. You can let ‘em touch ‘em and get up close to them. It’s funny how the parents are more afraid of them than the kids.”


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