Discover what it's like to see your favorite bugs up close and personal with augmented reality! Scan QR codes to create 3D models of astonishing animals that you can explore with your family to investigate what makes them unique. Then, you can work together to figure out what your new friends eat and feed them to help care for the critters!

Why Bugs?

  • We use the word ‘bug’ in the name, but all the critters are actually animals.
  • Animal Discovery Zone (ADZ) animals aren’t always visible or active in their enclosures. The ADZ is home to a large variety of vertebrate and invertebrate species, from furry friends to chitinous crawlers. How many bugs in Bugtopia can you find in the ADZ collection?
  • The bugs in Bugtopia are fun to talk about! They are visually striking, currently in the ADZ, or local to the Bay Area.
  • We designed the activity so that visitors can feed the virtual bugs, something that helps people feel a connection with the bugs and build empathy for them.

How Does the Augmented Reality Work?

  • The code is read by the program and the 3D model is generated and overlaid over the video feed.
  • The 3D models overlay over the video look realistic and allow you to experience interacting with the bugs. People report a stronger emotional response to seeing the bugs like they are real.
  • Getting to interact with and feed the virtual bugs invites exploration and discovery and promotes conversation between adults and children.
  • The AR program was designed by Eddie Carbin, a creative technologist whose goal is to create meaningful experiences that leverage emerging technologies.


Institute of Museum and Library Services

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (Grant #MG-40-18-0005-18). The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this presentation do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Essig Museum of Entomology

Thank you to the Essig Museum of Entomology at UC Berkeley who provided expert consultation about the bugs, as well as their support in taking microscope photos of them from actual bugs in their collection.

Plan Your Visit



Age 3+: $20

Kids under 2: FREE

Members: FREE

Learn More >

3D Theater

$5 + Admission


$5 + Admission

See What’s Happening Today

calendar icon

Today’s Schedule >