This exhibition started on June 08, 2019 and is on display until January 31, 2020.

There were 22 objects in this exhibition but right now we can only show you 18 of them. Some objects may not be viewable because they were on loan; this might be due to issues involving image rights or simply because there is no digitized image for the objects.

See all the exhibitions.

View and print exhibition labels.


Botanical Lessons explores the 19th-century intersection of nature and design in the Smithsonian collections through models on loan from the National Museum of American History and illustrated books and periodicals from the holdings of Smithsonian Libraries. These thirteen colorful models, made by the leading German firm R. Brendel & Co., were popular teaching aids for students around the world during a period marked by a growing interest in science and education. Encyclopedias and periodicals were important sources of botanical research for an increasing number of scientists, professional gardeners, and enthusiasts. These models and illustrations provided up-close views of the natural world at a time when microscopes and image projection were not widely available. Through these design objects and visual aids, new ways of understanding nature’s intricate structures and beauty were possible with the naked eye.


  • Model, Ricinus Communis, 1875–1898
  • wood, papier-mâché, cardboard, plaster, reed pith, metal, string, feathers,....
  • Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
  • 22.2018.1
  • Model, Rhamnus Frangula, 1875–1898
  • wood, papier-mâché, cardboard, plaster, reed pith, metal, string, feathers,....
  • Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
  • 22.2018.2
  • Model, Ficus Carica, 1875–1898
  • wood, papier-mâché, cardboard, plaster, reed pith, metal, string, feathers,....
  • Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
  • 22.2018.3
  • Model, Daphne Mezereum, 1875–1898
  • wood, papier-mâché, cardboard, plaster, reed pith, metal, string, feathers,....
  • Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
  • 22.2018.4
  • Model, Sambucus Nigra, 1875–1898
  • wood, papier-mâché, cardboard, plaster, reed pith, metal, string, feathers,....
  • Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
  • 22.2018.6
  • Arum Maculatum, 1875–1898
  • wood, papier-mâché, cardboard, plaster, reed pith, metal, string, feathers,....
  • Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
  • 22.2018.7
  • Model, Juglans Regia, 1875–1898
  • wood, papier-mâché, cardboard, plaster, reed pith, metal, string, feathers,....
  • Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
  • 22.2018.8
  • Model, Rosa Canina, 1875–1898
  • wood, papier-mâché, cardboard, plaster, reed pith, metal, string, feathers,....
  • Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
  • 22.2018.12
  • Model, Theobroma Cacao, 1875–1898
  • wood, papier-mâché, cardboard, plaster, reed pith, metal, string, feathers,....
  • Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
  • 22.2018.13