The 16,000-square-foot Conservatory will feature a tropical butterfly atrium that will be open year 'round and will include more than 600 butterflies representing 200-300 species. The Butterfly Atrium will be one of only 25 enclosed tropical butterfly atriums in the U.S., and word is that timed tickets may be offered to ease congestion. Another wing of the Conservatory will house lush tropical foliage and serve as a space for education programs, weddings and social events.
Expected to open in mid-summer, the Conservatory will serve as the new entrance to the Hershey Gardens. Part of the new construction is an additional accessible parking lot.
The Milton & Catherine Hershey Conservatory is yet another addition to Hershey Gardens, which opened in 1937 as a 3 1⁄2-acre rose garden out of Milton Hershey’s request to “create a nice garden of roses.” Many other milestones have marked the expansion of Hershey Gardens which, today, is a 23-acre botanical garden hosting 115,000 visitors annually. A non-profit entity of The M.S. Hershey Foundation, Hershey Gardens features 11 themed gardens, including a children’s garden.
Notable Facts about the Milton & Catherine Hershey Conservatory
- Projected opening date is mid-July—up-to-date information about the official opening can be found on the Hershey Gardens website;
- The Conservatory is the only structure to be named for both Milton and Catherine Hershey;
- The 16,000-square-foot structure will include a Welcome Pavilion, Ticketing, Butterfly Atrium, Educational and Horticultural Wing, Overlook, Terrace and Garden Shop;
- Local artists were commissioned to provide stained glass butterflies (Hershey artist Louise Howell) and a water feature designed to look like banana leaves (Shane Morgan);
- The Conservatory and at least part of the outdoor gardens will be open year 'round;
- Butterfly species will include the stunning Blue Morpho, the Atlas Moth (largest moth in the world) and the Owl Butterfly;
- Dan Babbitt, new associate director at Hershey Gardens will manage the Butterfly Atrium. Babbitt has 20 years of experience in the field of entomology and environmental studies and formerly served as director of the Insect Zoo and Butterfly Pavilion at the Smithsonian Institution;
- The Butterfly Atrium will feature a unique Chrysalis Cabinet with innovative climate control technology. The Chrysalis Cabinet will enable visitors to view butterflies emerging from the chrysalids;
- In addition to palm trees and tropical foliage, the Butterly Atrium will have its own cacao tree.