Though art and science are usually kept separate from one another, they occasionally intersect gloriously, as is the case with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation’s Patent Drawings exhibit.

The exhibit features a collection of patent drawings ranging in date from the first half of the 20th century to today.

WARF is a non-profit organization that has been devoted to patenting innovative ideas born at the University of Wisconsin since 1925.

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The inventions pictured vary widely in their fields of discovery. Several of the drawings showed instruments potentially advancing medical discovery, such as the “Plasmid DNA of Yersinia pestis” (patented in 2004), the bacterium that causes the bubonic plague, which still makes rare appearances today in some developing countries. Another invention featured was a tool that allows veterinarians to assess the hip joints of young dogs, offering a better analysis of their potential future health problems. 

Elaine Knaus/The Badger Herald

These patent drawings represent years worth of academic research brought to life through the visions of the university’s most innovative minds. Walking through the gallery is like taking a stroll through Wisconsin’s scientific past.

Some suggested concepts for green energy sources include a solar cooker created by The Solar Energy Lab in 1957. Other drawings present ideas with the potential to make the everyday life easier, such as the “Braille Watch” and “Shoelace Tying Device”.

Elaine Knaus/The Badger Herald

The WARF Patent Drawings exhibit combines art with complex, innovative concepts created to better the world around us.

The drawings prove how art is essential in producing material versions of groundbreaking ideas. The selection of pieces represents a wide variety of ways in which research at UW has contributed to society for almost a century.

WARF donates to the university yearly to promote discoveries like the ones on display. Their support of research investments allows brilliant minds to continue creating, and this exhibit provides a remarkable link between art and science.

The WARF Patent Drawings exhibit is on display in Gallery 1308 of Union South until Nov. 14.