Bees: A Story of Survival - press release

WORLD PREMIERE: Provocative new exhibition to shine light on the existential threat to more than 20,000 bee species worldwide

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National Museums Liverpool and artist Wolfgang Buttress collaborate to create Bees: A Story of Survival - a dramatic fusion of art and science exploring the life of bees.

Opens Saturday 4 May 2023, World Museum Liverpool 
Press preview (by invite): Thursday 2 May, 10am-2pm 


Images and video available here



The product of 120 million years of evolution and with 20,000 known species, bees are vital to our planet’s ecosystems and essential to human existence.

In a unique partnership, World Museum, Liverpool and the award-winning artist and sculptor Wolfgang Buttress present the world premiere of Bees: A Story of Survival, an exhibition like no other. 

Using cutting-edge audio-visual technology, the exhibition explores the lives of bees from across the globe, transporting audiences into their world.

Led by changing soundscapes, visitors embark on a journey through eight immersive rooms. In a hive-like space, audiences will engage with bees, through a live stream directly into the heart of a living colony. Using sounds and smells, audiences follow a trail from trees to wildflower meadows, highlighting the impact of bees as pollinators of the natural world. 

A fusion of art, science and technology, Bees: A Story of Survival will bring to life what it is like to see and hear like a bee. The exhibition imagines and dramatically highlights the devastating impact of a world without these fascinating and essential creatures.

Wolfgang Buttress, said: “Bees can be seen as sentinels of the earth. They have been around for over 120 million years and are exquisitely tuned to the environment. Their health and wellbeing mirror the health of the Earth and they are dying in unprecedented numbers. Their existential challenges reflect our own – they die and suffer, we die and suffer.

“This exhibition was imagined to be like no other. The intention is to create an emotionally engaging and sensory stimulating experience to express the wonder and diversity of bees. I want the audience to feel empathy as well as an understanding and appreciation of these incredible creatures. If we love and respect bees a little bit more after seeing this exhibition, then we may well make the earth a better place for them and us to live in.”

Bridging the gap between sculpture, sound and science, Bees: A Story of Survival draws upon a decade of collaboration between artist Wolfgang Buttress and specialist in bee communication, Professor Martin Bencsik. Taking inspiration from his immensely popular 2015 installation The Hive at Kew Gardens, Buttress delves deep into the world of bees to create an emotional experience that will resonate long after audiences leave.

World Museum’s extensive entomology collection and specialist curators have played a key role in the development of Bees: A Story of Survival. With over 30,000 specimens of bees – including the UK’s rarest bee, Osmia xanthomelana, found only on a single site in North Wales – the museum’s natural history collections are used to support national and international research on the impact of environmental change on plant and animal populations.

Anne Fahy, head of World Museum, said: “An artwork and a science exhibition, Bees: A Story of Survival will push the boundaries of museum interpretation, educating and fascinating through a unique experience, and helping visitors to understand what we all can do to protect these intricate and resilient creatures. 

“Bees and other pollinators are vital to our planet’s ecosystems and essential to our own lives.  But their existence is under threat. Using World Museum's nationally and internationally important entomology collection, and with the artistic vision of Wolfgang Buttress Studios, we want to shine a light on the plight of bees and the devastating impact a world without bees would have on humanity.”

A host of special events from talks with activists and artists, to creative sessions for young people and family friendly activities will accompany the exhibition. 

Bees: A Story of Survival opens at World Museum, part of National Museums Liverpool, on Saturday 4 May 2024, and runs until Saturday 5 May 2025. The exhibition is sponsored by lead  partner Radisson RED Liverpool and premieres at World Museum, before embarking on a global tour. For more information visit:


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Images and video available here




Wolfgang Buttress on the plight of bees and the impact of humans

Wolfgang Buttress, said: “The use of pesticides, lack of biodiversity and climate change are some of the key factors which are negatively impacting the lives of all pollinators including bees. As a human race we are solely responsible for this. If we want to save the bees and in turn ourselves it is essential to highlight the impact of human behaviour on the Earth and create meaningful and positive change. The choice is ours.”


Audio elements of Bees: A Story of Survival

Wolfgang Buttress, said: “The process of creating the soundscape for Bees: A Story of Survival has taken over three years. I have been working with some of the world’s pre-eminent bee experts to source both new bee sounds and filmed footage.

“There was a deliberate and conscious decision to use analogue instruments as a foil and compliment to the bee sounds – cello, guitar, trumpet, harmonica and the human voice. The hope is that these two worlds inform, speak to and harmonise with each other, to create an impactful, peculiar and emotionally affecting outcome.”


Science and technology behind Bees: A Story of Survival

Wolfgang Buttress, said: “The technology behind the exhibition is a key part in the way we present the lives of these fascinating creatures to audiences. I was keen to make sure that the technology that we have used is non-intrusive, quiet and robust. There is a plethora of cutting-edge equipment involved in this exhibition, including LCD and laser projectors, LED programmable lighting, bone conductors, vibrating plates and scent diffusers, all with the aim of creating a multi-sensory experience for visitors.”




Chris Wardle
Communications & PR Officer
+44(0) 7779 123 321





Lorna McBride
Communications & PR Officer 
+44(0) 7779 123 321





About Bees: A Story of Survival

Bees: A Story of Survival is a visually stunning and immersive adventure that explores the epic tale of these incredible creatures and their essential relationship with the natural world.

In a unique partnership with the award-winning artist and sculptor Wolfgang Buttress, Bees: A Story of Survival is a beautiful harmony of art and science featuring cutting edge technology.

Using sculptural sound and light environments, the exhibition provides visitors with a real-time connection to bees within their natural habitat, revealing and expressing an ever-changing picture of their activity.

Journey with us into their universe, from the tiny and fascinating anatomy of a single bee to the magic and wonder of bee colonies, the role bees play in the environment and the threats they face.

Bees are facing extinction. With more than 20,000 known species, they are vital to our way of life and essential to the planet’s survival.

Could the decline in bees reflect the impending destruction of our natural world? Join us on an emotional and thought-provoking voyage of discovery, reminding us all that the time for action is now.


World Museum  

Experience the wonders of life and the universe at World Museum, where millions of years of the world’s history is revealed. Find out how humans have shaped the planet we inhabit, from Africa to the Americas, Asia and Europe and how human behaviour is impacting our world today. Immerse yourself in Sarah Howe’s magical poetry about survival and loss in the World Cultures Gallery and learn more about how we are reinterpreting collections. Visit the Ancient Egypt gallery, which houses one of the finest ancient Egyptian and Nubian collections in Europe.  We will take you to the farthest reaches of our spectacular world, diving down into underwater life in the newly refurbished Aquarium (opening summer 2021) and blasting you off into the skies in the Space Gallery and our updated Planetarium.


National Museums Liverpool

National Museums Liverpool (NML) comprises seven venues, including some of the most visited museums in England outside of London. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic. We attracted nearly 2.5 million visitors in 2022.

Our venues are Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, Walker Art Gallery, Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Sudley House and Lady Lever Art Gallery. National Museums Liverpool is regulated by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).