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Flowers in time travel

News & Stories — 06. February 2020
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The history of botany is to a large extent also the history of botanical illustration. The graphic illustration is an essential part of the plant's story, as it represents a unit of text and graphics.

The first plant book, originally christened "The Herbal Book," appeared in the 16th century. In the Book of Plants the encounter between science and art takes place.

Whether scientific illustration can also be called art is a modern question. A treasure of biology rests in Berlin: the herbaria created by Alexander von Humboldt on his expedition to South America, dried plants from the tombs of pharaohs, and fruits and seeds from all over the world.


The herbarium of the Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum, Berlin-Dahlem is the largest in Germany and opened its doors in 1819. The artistically preserved leaves and flowers are not a dead museum piece.


Today the herbaria are again highly topical; scientists use them as a comparison for the changes in ecosystems. Following the tradition of botanizing, a number of artists have developed a series of plant illustrations in which they artistically transform the scientific documentation used for the purpose of herbaria. Floral postcards and traditional plant collections, such as that of the botanist and Basel City doctor Felix Platter, are important cultural treasures.

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Alexander von Humboldt: 250. Geburtstag des großen Entdeckers
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