Important collection of botanical models catalogued

The University of Melbourne Herbarium is celebrating the completion of a catalogue of the School of BioSciences Botanical Model Collection, thought to be the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Botanical Model Collection comprises models made of painted papier-mâché, wood and other materials that were produced by noted model makers including R. Brendel & Co. in Berlin, and Les Fils d’Emile Deyrolle and Dr Louis Thomas Jérôme Auzoux in Paris around 1900. The models are of plants and fungi and were used for teaching purposes within the School of BioSciences (then known as the School of Botany) to demonstrate plant and fungi diversity, morphology, anatomy, and life cycles.

A Museums and Collections Project Program intern, Alison Cowan, catalogued the collection working alongside Dr Jo Birch, Herbarium Curator, in the University of Melbourne Herbarium. The cataloguing work revealed that the collection contains 181 models, an increase of almost 50 models over numbers previously recorded. Curation required careful transcription of label data for each of the models, which include botanical names written in Latin and common names, structures, and magnification written in German, French, or Italian! Cataloguing enables the ongoing use of the models for exhibitions, teaching, and conservation by Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation students.

Image: Les Fils d'Emile Deyrolle, Buttercup (Ranunculas spp), France, c.1900. University of Melbourne Herbarium [Photography Jody Hutchinson]