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.
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 MoreArt@maaa.org or (800) 473-3872 x208/209 for current availability.
- September 1–October 20, 2021 Putnam Museum and Science Center
Davenport, IA booked
- November 10, 2021–January 7, 2022 Minnetrista Cultural Center
Munice, IN booked
- January 28–May 25, 2022 Turtle Bay Exploration Park
Redding, CA booked
- June 16–August 16, 2022 Elmhurst Art Museum
Elmhurst, IL booked
- September 1–October 20, 2022 Center for Arts Bonita Springs
Bonita Springs, FL pending
- November 10, 2022–January 7, 2023 City Lake Charles
Lake Charles, LA booked
- January 28–March 16, 2023 Littleton Museum
Littleton, CO booked
- April 6–May 25, 2023 Customs House Museum & Cultural Center
Clarksville, TN booked
- June 16–October 20, 2023 University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK booked
- November 10, 2023–January 7, 2024 Refurbishment
Kansas City, MO booked
- January 28–May 25, 2024 North Carolina Arboretum
Asheville, NC pending
- June 16–August 11, 2024
- September 1, 2024–January 7, 2025 Irving Museum and Archives
Irving, TX pending
- January 28–March 16, 2025
- April 6–May 25, 2025
- June 16–August 11, 2025 Hastings Museum
Hastings, NE pending
- September 1–October 20, 2025
- November 10, 2025–January 7, 2026
- January 28–March 16, 2026
- April 6–May 25, 2026
- June 16–August 11, 2026
Includes photographs and videos, iPad interactives, industrial design objects, natural specimens, and artworks.
Custom-Designed and Built Crates
Louise Shirley, Donald M. Kerr Curator of Natural History; and Carloyn Nesbitt, Bonnie Lee and Oliver P. Steele III Curator of Education
High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon
Out-of-Region Rental Fee
In-Region Rental Fee
Number of Crates/Total Weight
10 crates estimated
The exhibition is fully insured by ExhibitsUSA at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.