The Charleston Museum will present an original exhibition, Preserving Nature’s Beauty: The Art of Herbaria, from September 14, 2018, through April 28, 2019. In this new lobby exhibit, examples from the Museum’s extensive herbarium collection will be on display, many acquired nearly two centuries ago. The exhibition will take an artistic look at the design elements of historic plant specimens and the contributions by Lowcountry botanists who studied them.
Whether for research, for preservation, or for the joy of personal collecting, people have collected plant specimens for centuries. In 1722, English artist and naturalist Mark Catesby arrived in Charleston, SC and spent four years researching native plants and animals. His work, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, became the first major study of botanical and animal life in North America. Along with a print from Catesby’s publication, the exhibition will highlight Maria Martin Bachman, a Charleston artist and naturalist, who worked alongside John James Audubon. Bachman became well known for her combination of scientific accuracy and artistic judgment.
Preserving Nature’s Beauty will also display several plant mounts from the collections of Henry William Ravenel, Stephen Elliott, Laura May Bragg, Edmund Ravenel, and Lewis Reeves Gibbes, as well as examples from the never exhibited before Dill Sanctuary Collection. One example of interest will be the plant mount of a Franklin Tree, collected by Stephen Elliott of Charleston. The Franklin Tree has not been found in the wild since 1803 and is now only grown domestically. In addition to plant mounts, the exhibit will display other plant specimens such as a small core sample taken from a giant redwood tree and a representation of the world’s largest seed, the Coco de mer.
(Image from Charleston Museum press release)