Camouflage, carpet tiles and heat maps are all part of a new science- and art-based exhibition coming to the Littleton Museum.
The exhibit, titled "Nature’s Blueprints: Biomimicry in Art and Design,” explores how modern science, technology, arts and design have been inspired and enhanced by ideas from nature.
The exhibit will through March 15 in the museum’s culture gallery. It is most suitable for visitors ages 10 and up.
“This exhibit was particularly interesting for its subject matter,” said Moira Casey, curator of patron engagement at the Littleton Museum, on choosing to show the exhibit. “I really liked that it addresses art and design but with a scientific spin and the importance of it from an environmental perspective.”
Inspiration and development
Nature-based innovation, also known as biomimicry, can be found in many aspects of modern society: from clothing to architecture to the fine arts. The exhibit is aimed to help audiences understand that design is all around us, said Kathy Dowell, director of arts and humanities programming at Mid-America Arts Alliance.
MAAA is a regional arts organization that aims to help bring more art to more people. As part of this mission, it tours exhibits like Nature’s Blueprints through its national program, ExhibitsUSA.
Dowell and her team worked with curators at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, to adapt the exhibit from an original exhibit at their museum. Through this process, they added more of examples of arts and the humanities, expanding on the mainly science-based focus the original exhibit had.
Nature’s Blueprints started touring museums around the country in 2021 and will be on tour until 2026, Dowell said.
Casey said one of her favorite things about the exhibit is how immersive it is through audiovisual components, as that’s something the Littleton Museum is focusing on more lately.
“We're trying to increase our interactive and audiovisual experiences for our visitors,” she said. “Catering the way we present information so you're not just looking at an object and reading text, but you're hearing audio, you're watching a video, you're able to touch things, touchscreens -- all that stuff is new for us.”
Having an exhibit come with these interactive elements ready-to-go is a great way to include immersive strategies while her team continues to develop those elements for the museum’s own curations, Casey said.
In one section of the biomimicry exhibit, Dowell said visitors can put on blankets to warm up their bodies and see themselves on a screen. But instead of seeing the colors humans see, the screen portrays how some mammals view the world – based on heat. Animal vision has helped humans better understand radiation, x-rays and develop flight tools, she said.
“I love those kinds of immersive moments where you can kind of step out of your own body and experience something in a different way,” she added.
The exhibit also includes a reading space and books about biomimicry as well as card games on the topic. Casey hopes these spaces can inspire conversations and help multigenerational visitors connect on the topics they are learning about.
“In our daily narrow scope of life, we don't encounter or think about all the fascinating ways other species survive and have thrived,” she said. “I really hope people are sort of blown away by the various examples given in this exhibit.”
In addition, the organizers hope Nature’s Blueprints can inspire audiences to think differently when faced with challenges.
“Nature is our best place to look at for solutions to so many problems that we have,” Dowell said. “Everything you'll see in that exhibition is a problem that has been solved or made better by looking to nature and design in nature.”
Admission to the Littleton Museum is free. It is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.