Solving human problems through nature, a guide to Naturespace

Published Oct. 01, 2022
Updated Oct. 20, 2022

Where can you go to find seeds, shells and a taxidermy Gila monster? The ASU Library’s Naturespace, now open at Hayden Library, offers access to an interactive natural history collection for students, faculty, staff and community. From engineering to design, the collection offers visitors the ability to study natural specimens, find inspiration from nature and support learning to creatively solve human problems. 

Person looking at natural history specimens on a shelf

The library’s natural history collection

Located on the third floor of Hayden Library on the Tempe campus, Naturespace features animal skeletons, shells, plants and seeds, and taxidermy animals like Gila monsters, an armadillo and a flying squirrel. Unlike a museum, this is a hands-on collection and visitors can interact with objects and specimens. 

Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, you don’t need to make an appointment to visit. Walk-ins are welcome to get help and use microscopes and other tools to examine objects.

Christina Sullivan, coordinator for the ASU Library’s Naturespace said, “We are excited to have Naturespace right here in Hayden Library for the ASU community. This collection is for everyone, whether you are studying business, sustainability or art.” 

Using biomimicry to solve problems

Last spring, Sullivan earned her Master of Science in biomimicry degree and hopes to bring awareness to this emerging discipline. "Biomimicry helps us ask, 'How does Nature solve challenges and what can we learn from those solutions?' It allows us to shift our perspective to use nature as a mentor to help solve human challenges in the world today," said Sullivan. 

A wall of shelves displaying objects and specimens from the library's natural history collection

Some of the most prominent examples of biomimicry include velcro inspired by hooked seed pods, wind turbines that mimic humpback whale pectoral fins, or studying ant patterns as a solution to traffic congestion. 

Biomimicry can take several approaches; from examining forms and shapes, a process like photosynthesis, or an eco-system itself like a city, it offers an interdisciplinary approach to make connections between biological principles and design.

What’s next for Naturespace?

In the coming months, Naturespace will feature workshops and events such as still life drawing and presentations around biomimicry conecpts. A featured book collection, “Inspired by Nature” is also on display on the second floor in Sun Devil Reads. Check out the Naturespace LibGuide and stay tuned to the ASU Library news and social media for upcoming events and Naturespace updates. 

For questions about Naturespace, please contact Christina Sullivan.