It takes a gifted artist to become a great teacher and those who dare to teach never cease to learn.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Arts and Archives 2014: Natural History Museum and 8 million plant specimens! (May 5)

Entry hall of the newly renovated Botanical Library and Herbarium building at Natural History Museum, Paris.  

 We were very lucky to spend a whole day in the National Museum of Natural History in Paris and tour the Botanical library followed by the National Herbarium. The Paris herbarium hosts the world's largest natural history plant collection with eight million specimens (the oldest dates back to the 17th century). Typically this collection, which includes around 500000 type specimens, is accessible only to specialists. 
The National Herbarium was established in 1793 and in 2013 completed a $36 million renovation, $15 million of which was devoted for scanning the mounted specimens and for sorting and mounting the unfiled ones. This 4-year project involved 22 new employees to classify the non-classified specimens, and 40 new employees during a 2.5-year period to sort and scan the plant specimens. The goal was to treat 200000 specimens per month and in November 2013 six million plants were digitized.
We loved the company of Thomas and Agathe Haevermans. He is the director of the botanical research at the department of plant systematics and evolution; Agathe is the scientific illustrator at the department. Please see some highlights from the day by clicking here.
Banana Musa haekkinenii discovered in 2008 in Vietnam by a team from the Museum, painted in watercolor on-site by illustrator Agathe Haevermans. 

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