Canvas Kit™: Create Living Paintings (Agar art kit)

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About the Canvas Kit™
Create beautiful living paintings with colorful bacteria!  Great for science class, visual arts class, or as a fun, safe science and art exercise at home.

The Canvas Kit is a fun first step to learning about biotechnology, genetic engineering, and an exciting new field called Bioart or Agar art.

That's right! With this agar art kit, you can make art with bacteria! This kit lets you use 3 colorful, friendly bacteria to make some beautiful living art.

Curious how it works? Try the Virtual Bioengineer Canvas Kit Edition!

The Canvas kit also accompanies Chapter 3 of Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero book. 

Visit the American Society for Microbiology Agar Art Competition for inspiration and a chance to enter your artwork! 


    Timeline for Canvas kit - Amino Labs Bioart kit, Petri dish art kit, microbial art kit for glowing bacteria, bacteria art, bacterial art, living art, STEM science project kit, sciart, great for middle school science, biology, high school, DIY bio, biohacking, home biotechnology

    What will you learn?

    For this art-meets-science project, you will:

    1. Make your own "painting canvases," called LB agar Petri dishes; a ubiquitous skill in the life sciences.
    2. Create a 'painting palette' and incubate it to have ample paint to use
    3. Paint or stencil the colourful bacteria included in the kit onto three Petri dish canvases.
    4. Incubate them in a warm spot, or an incubator if you have one
    5. Like an invisible ink, you won't see them at first, but as they grow and divide, they will become visible between 12-48 hours and change colour. Your painting will emerge!

    What's included?

    (1) Canvas Kit in Individual or Group size: Sterile water, LB agar, and selective antibiotics, bacteria paintbrushes, Petri dishes (6 cm), colourful bacteria tubes, stencils. Bacteria included are purple, "invisible-ink" cyan (fluorescent), and magenta (fluorescent). If you have already engineered cells with an Engineer-it Kit and still have them, you can also use those cells with a Canvas Kit!

    • Individual Kits: An individual kit with all the ingredients needed for completing an entire science experience and complete 3 bacteria art paintings. Great for an individual or a small group.

    • Classroom/Group Kits: Eight individually packaged kits with the needed ingredients to complete eight entire science experiences and one shared resources bag containing the coloured bacteria and inactivation bags, which are shared between all participants. With the group kit, you can create up to 30 bacteria art paintings. Save $165 compared to 8 separate Individual Kits.

    • Refill Individual Kit: An individual refill kit with all the ingredients to make 4 new Canvas Petri dishes and use your existing colourful bacteria from another Canvas kit. Great for an individual or a small group. Does not come with colourful bacteria.

    • Refill Group Kit: A group refill kit with all the ingredients to make 32 new Canvas Petri dishes and use your existing colourful bacteria from another Canvas kit. Great for classrooms and groups. Does not come with colourful bacteria.

    • Instructions: a manual with easy-to-understand vocabulary and step-by-step procedures and an online experiment simulation to practice with, teach you fundamentals, and guide you along the way. Available online. See the Resources tab for links!

    What else is needed?

    The recommended equipment for this experiment is a 37 °C incubator.

    While an incubator is recommended for the brightest result, it is not required since the bacteria will grow at room temperature. This does take longer, and produces colors that are more pastel than bright, but works all the same. You can also build your own DIY incubator by following our tutorial. Have a look in the resource section below for a link!

    This kit is compatible with the DNA Playground's built-in incubator and our Classroom Incubator

    Cleaning and safety supplies are not included in the kit. Necessary safety and cleaning supplies are latex or nitrile gloves, and a chlorinated bleach cleaner or a 10% solution of chlorinated bleach in a spray bottle (you can make this by adding 9 parts water to 1 part bleach in a spray bottle). You can add a Mini Safety Set to your kit which includes gloves and a reusable plastic apron to protect your clothes.

    For more information about safety, set up and clean up, you can have a look at the instruction manual for the experiment linked in the Ressources section below, and at the "Practicing safe science" page.

    Storage & Shipping

    Shipping Times

    Experiment kits are shipped 1-10 working days after you place your order. If you require yours for a specific date or event, please contact us before or with your order # so that we can try to make it happen for you! ☺︎ 


    For the best results, and the longest shelf life possible, refrigerate the kit(s) upon arrival. You'll find a "Best by" date on the kit's label. This date assumes you've refrigerated your kit upon arrival.

    For any questions, don't hesistate to reach out to us - contact us