Share this

Explore the microscopic world of plants at the University Museum

February 3, 2011

Jori Wade-Booth, public affairs coordinator, UNI Museums, 319-273-2188, 

Stacey Christensen, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The UNI Museum's new exhibit explored how Earth's diverse environments create challenges for plant survival. Open Feb. 14 through May 14, "Plant Adaptation Up Close: A Biological and Artistic Interpretation" explores how plants have evolved with special adaptations that allow them to thrive under hostile conditions. Biological explanations and artistic photography bring to life the resourcefulness and beauty of the plant kingdom.

 An opening reception, featuring guest speaker Billie Hemmer of the UNI Botanical Center, will be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 15, at the University Museum.Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides

Through microscopic and three-dimensional images, visitors will learn about plants that are meat eaters, vegetarians, squatters, sunbathers, drifters, social climbers and guzzlers. Artist Joan Weiner used the scanning electron microscope to produce images of the structures that enable their special adaptations and then colorized them to create the evocative prints.

Many of the adaptations, including some microscopic organisms, are hard to see with the naked eye. A slide show explores bacteria in roots that help plants obtain nitrogen, an essential element for their growth. Magnification zooms in closer and closer to plant roots and bacteria, showing how the diameter of the earth is 12.8 trillion times bigger than the diameter of the bacteria.

Live plants, including several from the UNI Botanical Center Collections, will be on display. Visitors can view beautiful specimens such as water hyacinth, cactus, echeveria, Venus flytrap and more.

"Plant Adaptation Up Close: A Biological and Artistic Interpretation" was produced by the Botanic Garden of Smith College in collaboration with the Smith College Microscopy and Imaging Facility, and artist Joan Wiener, who created the enhanced electron micrographs. Visit for a complete listing of programs and events.

For more information, contact Jori Wade-Booth, public affairs coordinator at UNI Museums, at 319-273-2188 or The University Museum is located at 3219 Hudson Road in Cedar Falls. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 1 to 4 p.m., Saturdays.  Admission is free and open to the public.