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Orchid Conceptualization

Elegant Evolution. Orchids through Time. New Finds: Ancient Orchids. Darwin’s Orchids.

These are all proposed titles for Horticulture Services Division’s orchid exhibition, opening in January 2009 in the special exhibits gallery at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). NMNH’s Department of Botany is working with Horticulture to craft an exhibit that displays both the beauty of the orchids with information about the biology behind them.

The central part of the exhibit will feature fossilized pollinia from a 10 – 15 million year old orchid preserved on the back of an extinct species of stingless bee encased in amber. The fossil was found in the Dominican Republic in 2000 and is the first orchid fossil ever to be discovered, which is integral to scientists who study orchid evolution. Charles Darwin’s work on orchid reproduction and evolution will be featured in this exhibition, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of his The Origin of Species and his 150th birthday.

This exhibit is moving from the conceptualization phase to the design and scripting phase of production. In March, both the initial design concept and draft script will be ready for review.

A challenge of this exhibit is that OEC is moving into new facilities this summer, when our shops would normally be busy building the exhibition’s components. Horticulture will then be moving their greenhouses to a new site after the exhibit closes in April 2009.

photo by Ariel Ressler

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