A dragonfly’s intricate and fast-spinning wings has inspired drone technology, spider silk is used to build prosthetic limbs and transparent butterfly wings are the prototype behind New Zealand bank notes.

I wander through Bug Lab, an exhibition at Wellington’s Te Papa museum in conjunction with Weta Workshop, where beautiful and interactive installations enlighten adults and children alike.

Made up of four chambers with large-scale bug models, each intricately designed by Weta Workshop and taking more than 40,000 hours to complete, the exhibition entwines creativity with science. Bugs are portrayed as fascinating creatures that have constantly evolved for 450 million years rather than creepy crawlies.

Bug Lab creative director and Weta Workshop co-founder, Richard Taylor, has created ‘a wildly creative, wonderfully engaging and an excitingly educational exhibition.’

“It delivers a unique look into the lives of some extraordinary inhabitants of our planet,” he says.

Eager for more fun, I head to Miramar Peninsula to Weta Studios and join a Thunderbirds are Go tour which offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the remake of the Thunderbirds series. I’m astonished to learn what it takes to build each intricate set.

“All it takes is a creative mind and the ability to see things a different way,” our tour guide Tom says.

“There’s nothing stopping you from having a play around and mixing things together in weird and wonderful ways to make something that looks pretty cool.”

Old CD racks are disguised as high rise buildings, Scotch-Brite scrubs and ground-up mattress foam are transformed into grass, plastic trees most commonly found in aquariums line the miniature roadside.

The process of transforming junk into treasures is known as ‘kit bashing.’ Tom points out an old food blender and vacuum hose disguised as advanced machinery; a glue pot lid is spray painted silver and used as the roof of a building.

The creativity of people is inspiring. I’m now going to view my scrubbing brushes in a different light.

Reported by Monica Tischler for our AA Directions Autumn 2019 issue

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