The Power of Poison Takes Hold at The Denver Museum of Nature and Science

New exhibition opens on Friday, July 10 2015.

DENVER—Don’t bite from the poison apple … he writes with a poison-pen … that spider is poisonous! Poison has a bad rap, yet it actually plays a fascinating role in natural and cultural history. The new exhibition The Power of Poison—opening at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on Friday, July 10—explores its many paradoxes. Whether used as a defense against predators, a source of magical strength, or a lifesaving medical treatment, the story of poison is surprising at every turn.

Over millions of years, toxins and venoms have evolved as part of sophisticated survival systems that plants and animals rely on for both offense and defense. Humans have used many of these poisons for both sinister and beneficial purposes. Poisoned drinks, clothes, and foods play starring roles in fictional and real-life cases of crime and political intrigue. Humans have extracted toxins from nature for medicinal purposes for ages; today, scientists are increasingly researching and using them as sources of healing in new medical treatments.

The exhibition, which is free with general Museum admission, is popular among all ages with its immersive environments, engaging interactives, and intriguing mysteries. The experience includes

  • a re-creation of Colombia’s remote Chocó forest—including a display of live poison dart frogs—where many plants and animals use poisons to survive
  • dioramas depicting Snow White, the Mad Hatter, and the witches from Macbeth, and displays featuring many other famous poisonings, both real and fictional
  • an Enchanted Book that, as you turn the pages, “magically” reveals facts about poisonous plants such as belladonna, hemlock, and monkshood
  • a live show about a real-life poisoning case and key advances in the forensics of detecting poisons
  • life-size shadow boxes that set the scene for poisoning mysteries that visitors solve using an iPad app 
  • a model of a gigantic yew tree and other displays about how researchers todayuse natural toxins to develop new medical treatments

“We toss around the word poison but don’t give much thought to the fact that anything is toxic at the right dose, even water,” said Dr. Nicole Garneau, the Museum’s curator of human health. “So poison really has two sides to it. At the right dose, it’s beneficial, even medicinal, but the wrong dose can be fatal. This exhibition engages guests in the full spectrum of poison, from its evolutionary history to its use in modern forensics and medicine. Poison truly impacts humans and all of nature alike.”

The Power of Poison is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York

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Media Contact:
Maura O’Neal, [email protected], 303.370.6407

About the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is the Rocky Mountain Region’s leading resource for informal science education. Our mission is to be a catalyst and ignite the community’s passion for nature and science. The Museum envisions an empowered
community that loves, understands, and protects our natural world. As such, a variety of engaging exhibits, discussions and activities help Museum visitors celebrate and understand the wonders of Colorado, Earth, and the universe. The Museum is located at 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO, 80205. To learn more about the Museum, visit, or call 303-370-6000. Many of the Museum’s educational programs and exhibits are made possible in part by the citizens of the seven-county metro area through the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District. Connect with the Museum on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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