Santa Fe Reptile and Bug Museum

Fostering a connection between people and the natural world

The Santa Fe Bug and Reptile Museum is an educational organization that strives to foster a connection between people and the natural world by crafting exhibits and hands-on experiences using our collection of unusual creatures, artifacts, fossils, and more. We use the natural fear and fascination people have for these misunderstood animals to help visitors have a better understanding of the environment we all share and the importance of protecting it.

First founded in 2013 as the Harrell House Bug Museum, we operated for nine years at the DeVargas Center, and then moved briefly to Santa Fe Place in 2021. The outpouring of support from the community when the Museum lost its space at the end of 2021 inspired us to become a nonprofit organization under a new name, The Santa Fe Reptile and Bug Museum!

Since its start in 2013 it has attracted approximately 70,000 visitors. The interactive Museum features dozens of live bug exhibits as well as reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Visitors are able to touch and interact with a selection of gentle live creatures as part of their experience. The Museum hosts field trips from schools, day camps, scout groups, and private birthday parties. Owner and founder Wade Harrell visits many schools, museums, and homes with a mobile version of the Museum. The Museum is a vital and popular fixture in the community, especially for families with kids.

In 2023, we opened a temporary location at the Santa Fe Fashion Outlet mall. Our goal is to continue the mission of educating the residents and visitors of Santa Fe about the world’s most amazing and misunderstood creatures, and the environments in which they live. Our future at the Outlet Mall is uncertain, but we are committed to our educational mission, whether it is at a fixed location or as an outreach-focused organization that travels around Santa Fe and New Mexico with a mobile version of the Museum.

Although we do not consider ourselves an animal rescue organization, the majority of the live reptiles on display are former pets that we adopted when their original owners could no longer care for them. As an additional part of our mission, we seek to educate pet owners and potential pet owners about the risks and responsibilities involved with caring for reptiles.

Thanks to the grant from the Santa Fe Community Foundation, in 2024 the Museum began offering free programs to publicly funded schools in Santa Fe. These include both free museum admission for field trip groups, as well as outreach programs where we bring live insects and reptiles to classrooms. We hope to expand our outreach programs in the future, and to develop new presentations covering other aspects of natural history and conservation for Santa Feans.


The Santa Fe Community Foundation invited local nonprofits to submit stories related to our May topic of Animal Welfare

May 21, 2024
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