The Ware Collection of Glass Models of Plants

20091018_GlassPlants_009by Chef Cooke

If you live in the Boston, Massachusetts area or are visiting Boston there is a great flower exhibition that you should not miss. This is an exhibition that you can visit at any time of the year; but not many people seem to know about it. This is The Ware Collection of Glass Models of Plants. The exhibition is located at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.  See here.

President & Fellows Harvard College, photo by Hillel Burger, showing 3 of over 3,000 glass models of plants on display at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

This unique and stunning collection of nearly 4,400 plant models was created by naturalists and glass artisans Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolph whose studio was located near Dresden, Germany. They started creating the plant models in 1886 and worked on them through 1936. The life-size models include over 800 species of plants. The models replicate the tiniest details of plant anatomy with astounding precision and are made entirely of glass, reinforced internally with wire support when needed. This is one of the most amazing exhibits this Garden Lady has ever seen.

The history behind the creation of the models was that the founder of Harvard’s Botanical Museum wanted life-like representatives of the plant kingdom for teaching botany. At the time only papier-mache and wax models were available and these were either crude or could melt in hot weather. The project was financed my Mrs. Elizabeth C. Ware and her daughter, Mary Lee Ware, who presented the collection to the Botanical Museum of Harvard University as a memorial to Dr. Charles Eliot Ware, class of 1834.