Museum Week 2024 - Biodiversity

5 June 2024

This week we are celebrating museums and cultural organizations around the globe by participating in Museum Week 2024.  Each day of this week is set apart with a unique theme that encourages art and culture centres, such as MoDiP, to highlight aspects of their collection and everyday activities relating to that theme. Today is the third day of Museum Week, which has been allocated the theme of Biodiversity. For MoDiP this presented an opportunity to discuss a past exhibition, Beastly Designs. This exhibition focused on how the design of plastic objects often mimic animals and their distinct characteristics in creative ways that increase the functionality of the product. Additionally, this exhibition discussed how biomimicry and the imitation of animal products by various plastics revolutionized the design industry. All objects used in this exhibition can be found here on our website, though I will quickly go through some of the objects I thought represented these concepts exceptionally well.


With this potato masher, designed to look like a white duck, the inclusion and outline of the webbed feet enhance the use of the product in a functional and humorous way.

Duck potato masher

Duck potato masher - AIBDC : 000948

This bunny-shaped desk tidy not only looks cute, but saves desk space by artfully concealing scissors as the bunny’s ears and green paperclips as the stem of the magnetic carrot.


Bunny tidy

           Desk bunny - AIBDC : 006690

Arguably one of the more distinguishable characteristics of hedgehogs is their spines. That iconic characteristic was replicated in this cheese grater by the placement of shredding slots along the graters back.  


Kasimir cheese grater

                Kasimir cheese grater - AIBDC : 006671


This faux-fur scarf is composed of synthetic fibres and fabric backing - known together as pile fabrics. Polymeric and synthetic fibres have been used since the 1920’s to mimic and replace animal fur, which significantly reduced the demand for real fur and subsequent damage to various animal populations.

Faux-fur scarf

Synthetic fur scarf - AIBDC : 005095

Similarly, this imitation tortoiseshell crumb tray was manufactured using cellulose nitrate and coloured to mimic genuine tortoiseshell. This mimicry not only significantly lessened the exploitation of tortoises, but also made luxury objects cheaper to produce and more available to consumers.

imitation tortoiseshell crumb tray

Crumb tray - PHSL : 317


The use of biomimicry, or the concept of imitating natural and biological systems in design and invention, and the versatility of plastic material have led to unique and revolutionary products.

An early example of this design and material fusion is this 1960's cat’s eye road stud, manufactured with polystyrene reflectors that mimic the eyeshine reflected from the eyes of cats in the dark.

cat eye road stud

Road stud - PHSL : 265

Another example of biomimicry in plastic design is this Bodyskin Swimsuit which utilizes an external texture modelled on the dermal denticles, or skin teeth, on shark skin. These denticles create localised turbulence, redistributing the water around the denticles and reducing the drag of the shark through the water. The inclusion of plastic denticles on this swimsuit are believed to reduce drag and increase speed of the user.

Bodyskin swimsuit

Speedo Bodyskin swimsuit - AIBDC : 003695

Check out how other institutions are showcasing biodiversity by following #BiodiversityMW and  #MuseumWeek2024 on all social media and if you're not already, follow MoDiP at modipaub on Instagram and X (formerly known as Twitter). 


Shannon Carr, 

MoDiP Collections Officer