Botanical Museums

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Botanical Museums


institutions that collect, classify, preserve, and display botanical collections and also do scientific and educational work in botany. In 1969 there were more than 200 museums that disseminated botanical knowledge. In Great Britain, Indonesia, Norway, the USA, France, and other nations, botanical museums are usually divisions of botanical gardens, natural history museums, museums of local lore, and other museums. Thus, in the Museum of Natural History in Chicago, the botanical division consists of displays of plant life and plant raw materials and their uses. Plant groups (phytocoenoses) are presented in biological groups that serve as a background for zoological exhibits. The collections of the Botanical Museum of the London Botanical Garden at Kew are kept in four buildings. Dicotyledons and various products from them are in the first building. Specimens of monocotyledons are in the second building. Collections of the varieties of trees in Great Britain and an exhibit of the methods of their industrial use are in the third building. A collection of drawings of plants from all continents of the world is in the fourth building, called the Miss North Gallery. In the Vienna Natural History Museum botany is represented in the so-called phytopaleontological division.

In the USSR there are botanical museums in Leningrad, Kiev, Baku, Dushanbe, and other cities/ The largest specialized botanical museum is the museum of the V. L. Komarov Botanical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (AN SSSR) in Leningrad. It was founded in 1823 as part of the Imperial Botanical Garden, on the basis of collections of specimens of dead plants, as well as everyday articles made from plants and products of plant origin collected by many generations of Russian botanists and travelers.

The possessions of the Botanical Museum—up to 70,000 specimens—are grouped in four sections. The collections of the economic botany section consist of objects of economic significance or those used for technical, pharmaceutical, and other purposes (fatty and volatile oils, resins, gums, samples of certain food products, fruits, seeds, types of tea, cocoa, coffee, various spices, medicines, and samples of fiber, narcotic, and sugar-containing plants).

The carpology collection includes coniferous and sago cones and seeds and fruits from various species of palms (including the fruits of the Seychelles palm, which weigh up to 20 kg), dicotyledons, and other plants. The dendrology collection includes numerous trunks and cuttings from many of the varieties of trees in the world, including conifers, deciduous trees, and tree ferns. The dendrology collection also includes samples of wood from the mahogany, ebony, rosewood, and ironwood trees, pink sandalwood, boxtree and saxaul wood, a large collection of palm trunks, bamboo, a unique sample of the South African welwitschia, and other specimens. There is an interesting collection of burls—growths from tree trunks—that acquire particular beauty after proper treatment and are highly valued in industry. Lianas are richly represented in the collection of the Botanical Museum.

The biological collection at the Botanical Museum in Leningrad contains such specimens as the so-called cushion plants from the high mountain regions of Middle Asia (including the Pamirs) and the polar regions; gigantic herbaceous plants of the Umbelliferae family (ferula); parasitic plants such as rafflesia from Java; and giant-leafed plants, such as the shade palm, the grass Erianthus, and others. The museum also conducts morphological and comparative anatomical studies of some groups of higher plants (the order Coniferales and the families Poaceae [Gramineae], Araliaceae, Vitaceae, and others) and investigates the origin and phylogeny of separate species of the genus Hordeum. Between 1963 and 1967, the Botanical Museum of the V. L. Komarov Botanical Institute of the AN SSSR has published more than 100 scientific works.


Bakhteev, F. Kh., and E. S. Chavchavadze. “Muzei Botanicheskogo institute im. V. L. Komarova Akademii nauk SSSR (K 250-letiiu Botanicheskogo in-ta).” Botanicheskii zhurnal, 1965, vol. 50, no. 10.
Polianskii, V. I. “Kratkii istoricheskii oeherk museia.” In Ot Aptekarskogo ogoroda do Botanicheskogo instituta. Moscow-Leningrad, 1957.
“Chronica Botanica.” International Plant Science News Magazine, 1938, vol. 4, September, no. 4/5.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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