{Germany} The World of Plants

July 10, 2014

Germany

Last week I introduced you to the wonderful Botanical Gardens in Berlin, this week I want to introduce you to the other half of the equation – the Botanical Museum. The museum is the only one of its kind in Central Europe, and complements the living plants on display in the gardens next door.

Botanic Museum Berlin

The permanent exhibition starts on the first floor, with a look at the evolution of plants – including some fossil botany – before introducing the three big plant kingdoms of algae, mosses and ferns, and seed and flowering plants. Here visitors can learn about everything from photosynthesis and endosymbiosis, to the biotopes and reproduction of plants.

Botanic Museum Plant Model

Botanic Museum Strawberry

In a short excursion on plant geography, you can test your knowledge of different vegetation around the world on an interactive map, from alpine flowers to desert cacti.

Botanic Museum Cacti Tableau

Another short excursion introduces a small display in plants in Ancient Egypt. A reproduction of flower neckpiece shows how mummies would have been decorated, and of course the use of papyrus gets a mention too.

Botanic Museum Plant Jewellery

The largest section on the first floor is devoted to crop plants. A laid out breakfast table is juxtaposed against illustrated maps showing which crops are native to which parts of the world…

Botanic Museum Breakfast Table

Botanic Museum Map

…while a series of display cases introduces individual crop plants – such as rice and corn, wheat and oats, herbs and spices, tea and coffee, tobacco and hemp, flax and cotton – and the different products that can be won from them (with a small sub-category on natural and synthetic drugs).

Botanic Museum Displays

Botanic Museum Hirse

Botanic Museum Cigars

Botanic Museum Thread

As well as examples of the plants and products themselves, there are also a few models showing plant parts greatly magnified.

Botanic Museum Model

Following on from crop plants and their various uses, another interesting display was the ‘world of fungi’ (‘friend or foe?’) and their various roles in decomposition, medicine and food. One neat feature was a small, doll house-like set up asking visitors to guess which of the food items on display contained or were produced with the aide of fungi.

Botanic Museum Mushrooms

Botanic Museum Dollhouse

On the second floor of the museum, the exhibition continued with a look at the history of botany, the morphology and anatomy of higher plants (also known as vascular plants), and biodiversity and biomass. The second floor also holds a space for special exhibitions. On the occasion I visited, this was a very interesting exhibition all about coffee that has sadly now finished, but there are always new special exhibitions being put on.

Botanic Museum Tree

The Botanical Museum is located at the northern side of the Botanical Gardens on Königin-Luise-Straße, just a short walk along from the U-Bahn station Dahlem. There is a small admission fee to visit the museum, which is separate to the admission fee for the gardens themselves. The museum and gardens are open daily throughout the year, except on Christmas Eve.

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