Exhibition

Life in One Cubic Foot

December 3, 2022 - February 26, 2023

Exhibitions are free with General Admission.

From Central Park to South African shrubland to a coral reef in the South Pacific, Life in One Cubic Foot reveals the diversity of nature that can be found using “biocubes”—one-cubic-foot frames used to survey the animals and plants living in an ecosystem. The exhibition features the research of Smithsonian scientists and photographer David Liittschwager as they discover what a cubic foot of land or water—a biocube—reveals about the diversity of life on the planet. In addition to exploring life through the exhibition, visitors are also invited to participate in citizen science and uncover the biodiversity in their backyard by creating and monitoring their own biocube. The exhibition is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

De Central Park a matorrales sudafricanos  e incluso hacia arrecifes de coral en el sur del Pacífico, Life in One Cubic Foot (Vida Dentro de un Pie Cúbico) revela diversidad de naturaleza que puede encontrarse utilizando “bio-cubos” – marcos del tamaño de un pie cúbico usados para denotar especies animales y plantas viviendo dentro de pequeños ecosistemas. –  La exposición destaca la investigación de científicos del Smithsonian y del fotógrafo David Liittschwager conforme descubren lo que un biocubo revela sobre la diversidad de vida en el planeta. Además de explorar vida a través de la exposición, el público está invitado a participar en actividades científicas por su cuenta y descubrir la biodiversidad en sus jardines, crenado y monitoreando sus propios bio-cubos. La exposición es organizada por Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (El Servicio de Exposiciones Itinerantes de La Institución Smithsonian) en colaboración con el Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (Museo Nacional de Historia Natural Smithsonian.) 

“Life in One Cubic Foot” follows the research of Smithsonian scientists and photographer David Liittschwager as they document and discover what a cubic foot of land or water – a biocube – reveals about the amazing diversity on our planet. The exhibition is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

#Life1CubicFt
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Pictured: A biocube placed on the Tamae Reef
off the Pacific island of Mo’orea.
© David Liittschwager

Biodiversity Festival & Winter Market

The Biodiversity Festival will celebrate the incredible variety of life on Earth! Explore the field of biodiversity through hands-on activities, visit the Smithsonian exhibition Life in One Cubic Foot, engage with community organizations, and shop at the Market at the Museum.

Participating organizations include UTRGV Soil Ecology Lab, Estero Llano Grande State Park, and more!
Buy your admission ticket before you go and skip the line to get in!

Learn more about Life in One Cubic Foot

IMAS Members: Early Access 12:00-1:00PM

IMAS members get an hour all to themselves at this event and access to Santa’s Workshop, open to IMAS members only. Enjoy hot cocoa, cookies, and more! Member hour is 12:00-1:00 PM and Santa’s Workshop will be open from 12:00 – 4:30 PM.

Buy your admission ticket in advance and skip the lines!

Admission to the festival and market is included with regular general admission tickets. Purchase a ticket in advance by clicking the button below for a December 4 general admission ticket. Online pre-purchased tickets and IMAS members will gain access through an express check in.

Vendor Interest Form

The Biodiversity Festival and Market at the Museum vendor applications will be considered on a rolling basis, as they are received. Please complete the form with as much information as possible. Incomplete forms will not be considered. Preference will be given to vendors whose merchandise have a connection to the festival theme.

The following interest form does not guarantee participation in the Biodiversity Festival as a vendor. IMAS will contact vendors to confirm participation and availability following the deadline, December 14, or sooner if all spots are full. The form below is required to be considered.

Please include a brief description of the nature of items and merchandise. Be as specific as possible. Please indicate if items are created by hand and name(s) of artists or artisans.
Click or drag files to this area to upload. You can upload up to 5 files.
Click or drag files to this area to upload. You can upload up to 2 files.
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Extended Learning: Build a Biocube

Explore the natural world while enhancing your scientific skills by building your own Biocube at home.
In this activity explorers/scientists will be building their own Biocube from household materials and investigating nature in a small area outside their home.

Step 1: Build a Biocube

Find household items to build your 12-inch cubic frame.

biocube at home 1

Homemade Biocubes made from magic markers, magazines, and coat hangers. Photos by Lara Noren, Smithsonian.

Time: 20-30 minutes
Supplies Needed:
  • Recording Sheet or Paper
  • Pencil
  • Biocube Sides: approximately 12, 12-inches of sturdy material.
    (aluminum tubes, PVC pipe, stiff wire, markers, or other creative solution. See examples above)
  • Biocube Corners: fasteners like tape, glue, clay, wire, or other creative solution.
  • Optional: Watch Video – Building a Biocube
  • Optional: Recording Sheet (Word document)

Step 2: Select a Space and Place your Biocube

biocube at home 2

Photos by Lara Noren, Smithsonian.

Find a spot outside your home where you can place your Biocube. Look for areas with a lot of different plants and animals, then place your cube.
This can be in a tree, halfway underground, on top of grass, at the edge of a stream, etc.

Step 3: Observe your Biocube

Biocube at IMAS 2164 2

Spend time observing the life in and around your Biocube. Record what you observe on to your Recording Sheet or on a piece of paper.

Step 4: Gather Supplies for Collecting and Sorting

Remove the Biocube from its location and sort all of the plants and animals that you find inside.

biocubeathome 4

Photos by Lara Noren, Smithsonian.

Time: 20-30 minutes
Supplies Needed:

Step 5: Explore

Explore the life and contents of the Biocube you have gathered. Sort what you find by putting similar types of plants and animals together in a container that they can then count and identify.

Time: 20-30 minutes
Supplies Needed:
  • Use the resources collected above. Explorers may need to improvise and do some problem solving as they work. This is GREAT and an important part of science.
  • Depending on interest and age, explorers can identify what they found using general categories such as worm, beetle, grass, flower, or more specific identifications to genus or species name. Apps such as iNaturalist (https://www.inaturalist.org) and Seek (https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/seek_app) allow explorers to take a picture and have a community of experts help identify it. Other websites and books on species identification are another great resource. If you have no access to identification guides, stick with the general categories.
  • Use the Recording Sheet or paper to record animals and plats found.
  • Optional: Phone or camera to take pictures.

Step 6: Share with IMAS

Share your photos and findings with us either on Facebook Instagram or Twitter.

Make sure to tag us using #ExploreIMAS #Life1CubicFt

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