The Power Of Poison: A Venomous Treat For The Family

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 31 months ago
The Power Of Poison: A Venomous Treat For The Family ★★★★☆ 4
A recreation of a South American rainforest contains live specimens and this rather frightening model of a Wandering Spider (thankfully not to scale).
A recreation of a South American rainforest contains live specimens and this rather frightening model of a Wandering Spider (thankfully not to scale).
Poisons have been used in literature, in this case by the three witches in Macbeth.
Poisons have been used in literature, in this case by the three witches in Macbeth.
This interactive book comes to life with animations triggered by touch.
This interactive book comes to life with animations triggered by touch.
Gold poison frogs are highly toxic and there are some live specimens in the exhibition -- they're behind glass in case you were worried.
Gold poison frogs are highly toxic and there are some live specimens in the exhibition -- they're behind glass in case you were worried.

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

The extremely popular LEGO-based Art of the Brick has finally closed but it's been replaced by another family oriented blockbuster exhibition from the US. This time it's all about poison and the natural world.

It kicks off with a bit of ambiguity around poisons. Chocolate may taste great to us but it's poisonous to dogs; too much salt can kill us and small doses of poisons can be used as medicines. Once visitors have been suitably confused and are ready to find out more they'll be let loose into a recreation of the South American jungle with live poisonous frogs, snakes and lots of facts about venomous plants and insects.

The exhibition then segues into a section on poisons in history and within fictional narratives — the Mad Hatter's behaviour in Alice in Wonderland may have been brought on by mercury poisoning while the Chinese emperor Qin used to drink mercury thinking it would grant him immortality. Everything from Greek myths to Snow White are covered off with some theatrical set pieces and the use of poisons is woven into entertaining narratives.

The final section will appeal the most to younger visitors with a mini play where an actor guides them through a laboratory based investigation and there are interactive puzzles to be played out on tablets — it's perfect summer holiday fodder and children will love it.

This exhibition was originally put on at the American Museum of Natural History before travelling to the UK, and it definitely has an American feel to it. It's slightly cheesy and there are strong storytelling aspects with educational facts scattered throughout, but this seems perfect for the family audience it's targeting. Adults needn't worry as there's plenty to keep them interested in this sizeable exhibition.

The only downside to these educational and entertaining exhibitions is the cost of the tickets — it's pretty expensive if you're taking the whole family. The price is justified by the efforts put in to the show but wallets and purses will take quite a hit.

Here's a teaser trailer for the original American exhibition:

The Power of Poison is on at Old Truman Brewery, 15 Hanbury Street, E1 6QR every day until 6 September. Tickets are cheaper for weekdays versus weekends — it's £13/£15 for adults, £8/£9 for children and £37/£45 for a family of four.

For more family friendly exhibitions see Sensational Butterflies, visit London Zoo's new lemur walkthrough or see our list of the 10 best family friendly galleries.  

Last Updated 17 May 2015

Laura Henze Russell

Too bad mercury poisoning is still with those who do not methylate well, a growing group as we age, compliments of the ADA and BDA.