Newsroom Midwest Region

Kaleidoscope of monarch and Karner blue butterflies installed at the Mall of America

April 29, 2019

A multi-level art installation featuring monarch and Karner blue butterflies hangs from the ceiling at the Mall of America.
Kaleidoscope of monarch and Karner blue butterflies at the Mall of America. Photo by Mara Koenig/USFWS.

We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have partnered with the Mall of America, artist Christopher Lutter-Gardella, Monarch Joint Venture and the Pollinator Partnership on a magnificent suspended installation consisting of a majestic 30-foot monarch butterfly surrounded by more than 300 smaller butterflies. The installation is now on display in the north rotunda at the Mall of America through summer 2019.

The Mall of America commissioned artist Christopher Lutter-Gardella to create the interactive installation entitled “Kaleidoscope” and share the critical story about the decline of the monarch butterfly and other pollinators with the hope of educating guests on how they can make a difference to help address this situation. With a hard pull of an arched rope, mall guests are able to flap the 30-foot monarch, which makes the smaller butterflies flutter.

Kaleidoscope was created using materials pulled from the waste stream. What you might see as a plastic spoon, Lutter-Gardella sees as an eye of a monarch butterfly. More than 600 spoons were used to create the eyes of the smaller butterflies fluttering above. The bodies and wings were created from plastic bags, window screens, wire hangers and electrical conduit.

The Service's Midwest External Affairs program and Minnesota Valley National Wildlife participated in the artwork creation working with Lutter-Gardella on the butterfly anatomy and provided technical expertise to the Mall’s communication and design departments on monarch butterfly and pollinator conservation. They will also be training Mall docents and offering guests educational programming throughout the summer.

Guests stopping to view the art and learn about pollinator conservation will discover the simple actions they can do to help - plant habitat, use pesticides responsibly and participate in citizen science. In addition, the Mall hopes to add native plants that pollinators prefer to their indoor landscaping with wayfinding signs throughout their property to lure guests to the installation.

The art will be displayed through summer 2019 for the Mall of America's more than 40 million guests to enjoy. Looking to the future, the Mall is exploring the possibility of displaying the installation each spring, as well as featuring it at other malls throughout North America.

A collage showing the view while looking up at the monarch installation and how visitors can interact with the art by pulling the rope to flap the large monarch's wings.
Left: Looking up at the installation. Right: Visitors can interact with the installation, flapping the large monarch’s wings. Photos by Melissa A. Clark/USFWS.