Nature’s Blueprints: Biomimicry in Art and Design

In an age of complex environmental challenges, why not look to the ingenuity of nature for solutions? The forms, patterns, and processes found in the natural world—refined by 3.8 billion years of evolution—can inspire our design of everything from raincoats to skyscrapers. This approach to innovation, called biomimicry, is becoming increasingly popular. Bird wings. Beehives. Porcupine quills. These have inspired design improvements that enable faster travel, safer buildings, and more precise medical equipment.

The exhibition Nature’s Blueprints: Biomimicry in Art and Design brings together art and design with environmental science using both scientific and artistic objects, as well as interactive learning stations. The exhibition is an adaptation of the High Desert Museum’s Innovation Lab: Design Inspired by Nature.

Biomimicry is not a novel idea; Gaudi and Da Vinci both took inspiration from nature. Modern science and technology, however, are rapidly expanding the types of materials and systems we can create. Similarly, the biological world has long served as a source of inspiration for artists. Biomimicry in art is not just painting or sculpting a flower. Rather, it is a process that entails exploring the material properties, cycles, and dynamics of nature, and how whole biological systems are structured—and putting that into works of art. Artworks and designs that are rooted in the laws and forms of nature can address pressing issues, such as conservation, sustainability, and environmental justice. They can also spark an interest in, and connection with, nature.

The intended takeaway messages of this exhibition are that nature is incredible, we can learn from it, and we can all be inventors. It also serves, indirectly, to highlight the importance of research. Our understanding of the natural world can lead to some extraordinary inventions that improve lives and reduce our impact on the environment.

High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, brings together wildlife, cultures, art, history, and the natural world to convey the wonder of North America’s High Desert. The High Desert Museum opened in 1982, is a Smithsonian Affiliate, and was a finalist for the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Services.

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Tour Schedule

Nature’s Blueprints: Biomimicry in Art and Design is touring September 2021 through August 2026. The dates below reflect seven-week exhibition periods. Dates are subject to change; please contact or (800) 473-3872 x208/209 for current availability.

  • September 1–October 20, 2021 Putnam Museum and Science Center
    Davenport, IA
  • November 10, 2021–January 7, 2022 Minnetrista Cultural Center
    Munice, IN
  • January 28–May 25, 2022 Turtle Bay Exploration Park
    Redding, CA
  • June 16–August 16, 2022 Elmhurst Art Museum
    Elmhurst, IL
  • September 1–October 20, 2022 Center for Arts Bonita Springs
    Bonita Springs, FL
  • November 10, 2022–January 7, 2023 City Lake Charles
    Lake Charles, LA
  • January 28–March 16, 2023 Littleton Museum
    Littleton, CO
  • April 6–May 25, 2023 Customs House Museum & Cultural Center
    Clarksville, TN
  • June 16–October 20, 2023 University of Oklahoma
    Norman, OK
  • November 10, 2023–January 7, 2024 Refurbishment
    Kansas City, MO
  • January 28–May 25, 2024 North Carolina Arboretum
    Asheville, NC
  • June 16–August 11, 2024 Fullerton Museum Center
    Fullerton, CA
  • September 1, 2024–January 7, 2025 Irving Archives and Museum
    Irving, TX
  • January 28–March 16, 2025
  • April 6–May 25, 2025
  • June 16–August 11, 2025 Hastings Museum of Natural and Cultural History
    Hastings, NE
  • September 1–October 20, 2025
  • November 10, 2025–March 16, 2026 Hi-Desert Nature Museum
    Yucca Valley, CA
  • April 6–May 25, 2026
  • June 16–August 11, 2026

Exhibition Details

Includes photographs and videos,  iPad interactives, industrial design objects, natural specimens, and artworks.

  • Content

    Fee Includes
    Press Kit
    Registrar’s Packet
    Programming Guide
    Gallery Guide
    Text Panels
    Narrative Labels
    Full Insurance
    Installation Instructions
    Custom-Designed and Built Crates

  • Curated By

    Louise Shirley, Donald M. Kerr Curator of Natural History; and Carloyn Nesbitt, Bonnie Lee and Oliver P. Steele III Curator of Education

  • Organized By

    High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon

  • Out-of-Region Rental Fee


  • In-Region Rental Fee


  • Duration

    7-week display

  • Shipping

    Van Line

  • Running Feet


  • Square Feet

    2,200 minimum

  • Security

    Moderate C

  • Number of Crates/Total Weight

    10 crates estimated

  • Insurance

    The exhibition is fully insured by ExhibitsUSA at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.

Downloads & Resources

Click HERE to view and download the Factsheet for Nature’s Blueprints: Biomimicry in Art and Design.