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Brief Published: 20 Jul 2016

Colour & Vision Exhibition

Blue morpho butterlies

London’s Natural History Museum is hosting an exhibition exploring the evolution of colour and sight. Colour & Vision: Through the Eyes of Nature brings together a vivid array of artefacts that illustrate this history. 

The exhibition charts a 565-million-year journey, examining optical history and highlighting pivotal creatures whose bodies possess unique structural colour and pigments, which have influenced the production of dyes and paints, and their use in art and design today.

Bright birds’ feathers, metallic beetles’ shells and iridescent butterflies are exhibited, including the magnificent blue morpho butterflies that inspired dichroic glass. These artfully displayed specimens illustrate the complex ways in which the animal kingdom exploits colour to warn of danger and deter predators, create camouflage and attract mates. 

Colour perception is fundamentally explored, providing insight into why humans and animals perceive and relate to colour differently. For further insights, visitors can view the world through the eyes of insects and animals using interactive digital screens.

Visitors can also pass through an immersive light installation by British artist Liz West, commissioned by the museum. Our Spectral Vision is inspired by Isaac Newton’s colour spectrum and replicates the division of white light through seven large-scale prisms. Each prism radiates in a different colour of the rainbow, filling the room with radiant reflections and atmospheric light. 

For palettes that draw from natural hues and pigments, take a look at our Colour Spectrum themes Digital Earth and Explorer. Read more about colour theory in Additive & Subtractive Colour and Geothe’s Theory of Colours.

Colour & Vision: Throu­gh the Eyes of Nature is open until November 6 2016.