Press Release – Forest at Night

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Contact: Heidi Hagemeier, director of communications and visitor experience, 541-382-4754 ext. 166,

High Desert Museum Announces Innovative Forest at Night Experience Opening June 1

Discover the Hidden World of the High Desert’s Nocturnal Species

BEND, OR — As the sun sets and darkness envelops the High Desert, a world comes to life. The High Desert Museum will open its latest interactive experience, Forest at Night, to showcase the captivating realm of nocturnal species and the critical importance of preserving darkness for their survival. 

Opening on Saturday, June 1, Forest at Night—located within the Changing Forest pavilion—invites visitors to embark on a whimsical journey into the nighttime habitat of various creatures. Developed by Museum curators and staff, this immersive experience aims to deepen visitors’ understanding and appreciation for the diverse array of animals, plants and fungi that thrive under the cover of night. 

Forest at Night celebrates the fascinating world of nocturnal species and underscores the indispensable role of darkness in their lives,” says Donald M. Kerr Curator of Natural History Hayley Brazier, Ph.D. “From insects and mammals to birds of prey, these creatures have evolved over millions of years to navigate, hunt and thrive in the dark.” 

At the heart of Forest at Night lies an enchanting, simulated forest illuminated by the soft glow of stars and moonlight. Visitors will encounter animated representations of the High Desert’s nocturnal inhabitants, including the white-lined sphinx moth, great-horned owl, striped skunk, common nighthawk and long-tailed weasel—each brought to life with vivid detail. 

At the room’s center, a large touchscreen interface allows guests to explore the darkened, animated landscape and learn about the unique adaptations of each species projected before them. Visitors will discover how animals with reflective eyes, such as mule deer, wolf spiders, cougars and an invasive species, the American bullfrog, utilize moonlight to navigate and hunt, akin to real-life scientists studying wildlife in their natural environment. 

“Through interactive elements and engaging displays, we aim to create a deeper connection between visitors and the nocturnal world,” explains Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “By understanding the challenges faced by these species, we can work together to ensure their continued existence in the High Desert.” 

In addition to showcasing the wonders of the night, this experience also delves into the pressing issue of light pollution. Upon entering Forest at Night, visitors may gaze up at twinkling stars and learn about the constellations that guide migrating birds on their journeys across the High Desert. In turn, visitors will also learn that as urbanization encroaches upon natural and urban habitats, artificial light disrupts the delicate balance of ecosystems, posing a threat to nocturnal species. 

“In a region where darkness is as vital as food and shelter for many species, the Museum hopes to inspire a newfound appreciation for the importance of preserving darkness” says Brazier. “To address the concern of light pollution, Forest at Night offers practical tips for reducing light pollution, both at home and in the community. Visitors will learn simple steps they can take, such as using motion sensors, installing shielded light fixtures, and opting for warm-colored bulbs, to minimize their impact on the night sky.” 

Forest at Night promises to be a captivating and enlightening experience for Museum visitors of all ages, offering a glimpse into the enchanting world of nocturnal creatures and the importance of safeguarding their habitat. 

The new experience launches as the Museum is swinging into summer with a new slate of daily talks, the opening of the U.S. Forest Service Ranger Station and a perennial favorite, the outdoor free flight program Raptors of the Desert Sky. Every day at 11:30 am in Raptors of the Desert Sky, birds of prey swoop right overhead in a natural amphitheater while a naturalist shares more about their adaptations and habitat. To learn more about summer at the Museum, visit

For more information about the Forest at Night experience opening at the High Desert Museum, visit It’s free with admission and will be open throughout 2024. Special thanks to Visit Central Oregon for supporting the Got Stars, Central Oregon grant project. To learn more about this project, visit


THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM opened in Bend, Oregon in 1982. It brings together wildlife, cultures, art, history and the natural world to convey the wonder of North America’s High Desert. The Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a Smithsonian Affiliate, was the 2019 recipient of the Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence and was a 2021 recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Instagram