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Manchester Museum butterfly release on Election Day 2015

14 May 2015

On 7 May 2015, artist Romuald Hazoumè asked the Museum to release the butterflies from six pieces in his exhibition Dance of the Butterflies to encourage people to engage with politics

Dance of the Butterflies is a striking artwork by one of Africa’s foremost contemporary artists, Romuald Hazoumè, It features swarms of multicoloured ‘butterflies’ which have taken over Manchester Museum’s Living Worlds Gallery, interacting with the Museum’s natural history collections. The hundreds of butterflies are made from off-cuts of vibrant African wax-print fabrics from the artist’s home country of Benin.

Dance of the Butterflies represents a very African take on politics, exploitation and the ‘butterfly effect’- how tiny changes within chaotic systems can lead to unexpectedly serious effects. The butterflies are arranged into shapes such as sharks, wolves or birds of prey - common popular images of politicians. 

Hazoumè asked the Museum to give away the butterflies from six pieces in the exhibition on Election Day on 7 May. This was a fantastic and unique opportunity for visitors to own a piece of contemporary art from a leading West African artist. To participate, voters simply had to come to the Museum, pledge to vote before the end of the day and crucially commit to encouraging one other person, through the gift of a butterfly, to do “something” to engage with politics - whether that be by voting, joining a campaign, debating or some other political act.

Over 500 butterflies were taken by visitors and were given to friends, family, colleagues and complete strangers. If you have a story about your butterfly please let us know @McrMuseum and you can follow the events of the day by using the hashtag #DanceoftheButterflies.