Touring the herbarium with Manchester’s plant scientists

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Yesterday I welcomed a group of scientists from the University of Manchester to the herbarium. Some study flowering plants like tobacco and barley, while others work with ferns, mosses and algae. 

We discussed the ways that herbaria can be used, both to conduct scientific research and to teach people about plants. It’s nice to think how little the aims of the herbarium have changed over the years since the collections were first being put together.

Take our beautiful plant models for example:

In 1892, Frederick Wiess (the second Professor of Botany at the University of Manchester) valued the way that models could show the fine structure of a plant to a room full of people, saying that:  “there are models and there are models…..the carefully prepared models, as supplied by Brendel, are a lesson in themselves.” 

In the intervening years, there have been great changes both in the tools available to study plants and those to show them to an audience. But despite inventions such as Powerpoint and improvements in microscopy, these models still do the job that they were made for and are viewed by 1st year undergraduates learning about the variety of life.

To read more about models by Brendel, follow this link:

http://curatorialtrainee.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/botanical-models/

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