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Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

Group Tours and Talks

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A great way to learn in-depth about different aspects of our collections is to schedule a tour or talk for your group. Our curators provide tours of the current exhibition and talks on a variety of topics relating to our collections. Please see the descriptions below for a sample of the tours and talks we offer. Often our curators can tailor talks to the interests of your group.

To schedule a tour or talk at the Institute, please contact us (412-268-2434; huntinst@andrew.cmu.edu). When scheduling, please specify in which talk your group is interested. Longer talks include a 40-minute presentation and up to 20 minutes of question and answer while shorter talks are 20 minutes with up to 10 minutes of question and answer. Both include time to look at objects on display when applicable. Talks may be available as on-site displays, off-site talks with PowerPoint or virtual presentations. Please provide possible dates for scheduling your tour or talk and the estimated number of visitors. Groups of 25–30 work best for talks in our reading room. We will try to accommodate your wishes, but we do have a small staff. We request reservations at least one month in advance. Tours and talks usually begin with an introduction to the Institute. If your group is already familiar with us, we can skip the introduction. Our fee for a tour or talk is $100.

Tours and Talks

"Botanical wall charts"

Our Art Department curators give an overview of our collection of instructional wall charts that were produced in Europe and circulated around the world from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries.

"Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778), his life and work"

This overview of Linnaeus' life and work briefly looks at his entry into science, his academic life, his groundbreaking work on description, classification and nomenclature, his student "apostles," his wide-ranging correspondence and collection-building and his legacy. Our librarian displays and discusses relevant items from our Strandell Collection of Linnaeana. (Available only on-site)

Current exhibition

Our Art Department curators offer a gallery tour and a talk highlighting themes from the current exhibition. (Available only on-site and during exhibition run)

"From botanical library to research institute: HIBD past and present"

Utilizing objects from each of the four departments and reflecting on the research interests of Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt, each presenter will give a short history of their programmatic department, the work that department has been doing and where they are headed. (Available only on-site)

"History of botanical art & illustration"

The history of botany is found not only in words but also in images. This talk focuses on botanical art in the West from the 15th century to today with an emphasis on works intended for publication in books. Giving an overview of changing techniques and some of the ways in which botanical art has been used over more than 500 years, we will discuss how artists took advantage of new techniques and how authors incorporated art into their published work.

"Hunt Institute as modern wunderkammer"

Three short presentations from our Archives, Art Department and Library will focus on a single subject, such as expeditions, VIPs of botanical history, plant subjects, herbals or other curiosities hidden in our collections. (Available only on-site)

"Important women in botany and botanical art"

This talk pulls from all departments to share lesser-known histories, work and legacies of women working in botany and botanical art fields, such as Anna Atkins, Elizabeth Blackwell, Lucy Braun, Agnes Chase, Anne Ophelia Todd Dowden, Maria Sibylla Merian and Emily Emmart Trueblood.

"Maria Sibylla Merian: Pioneer ecological artist"

Merian was an artist, a lifelong, dedicated amateur entomologist and a pioneer in the study of tropical insects. The manner in which she portrayed insects with their host plants was an innovation in scientific illustration. Her descriptions were based on careful, firsthand observation and yielded much new information for science.

"Mushrooms in the Institute"

In the past nature was envisioned as composed of three kingdoms (animal, vegetable and mineral), and fungi were considered plants. Today that number has expanded to six with fungi as its own kingdom. Mycology is the study of fungi, including mushrooms, truffles, lichens, yeasts, molds, plant pathogens and medically important fungi. Utilizing objects from our Art Department and Library, this presentation provides views of historical research and modern appreciation of fungi.

"Pierre-Joseph Redouté, his life and work"

Discussing the influences, patronage and artwork of the famous botanical artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840), this talk pulls from our Library collection of his publications, our Art collection of watercolors and prints by him, his mentors and his students, and our Archives collection of Redouté-related documents.

"Rachel Hunt's antique furniture"

Publication and Marketing Manager Scarlett Townsend talks about the history of the reading room, which was designed to capture the essence of Rachel Hunt's personal library, and conducts a walking tour of the antique furniture. The early herbals, the autograph letters and the Redouté paintings were important elements of her original collection, but equally important to her was the setting in which these items were enjoyed. She did not want her new library to look common or commercial. With the help of Harold LeBaron, her longtime interior decorator, and George H. M. Lawrence, our founding director, she chose items reflecting her tastes and personality. (Available only on-site)

The following shorter talks can be combined to create programming for an hour-long visit (select two) or added to a longer talk for a more in-depth look at our collections: "Diderot Encyclopédie" (Bibliography); "Life and Work of Anne Ophelia Todd Dowden" (Art and Archives); "Pancrace Bessa" (Art); "Three items from the Michel Adanson Library and what they tell us about Michel Adanson" (Library; on-site only); "Three items from the Strandell Collection of Linnaeana and what they tell us about Carolus Linnaeus" (Library; on-site only); and "Torner Collection of Sessé and Mociño Biological Illustrations" (Art).

Fritillaria imperialis, Kaiser krone [Fritillaria imperialis Linnaeus, Liliaceae], lithograph after an original by Johann Nepomuk Mayrhofer (1764–1832), circa early 19th century, 46 x 32 cm, HI Art accession no. 274.