Joseph Banks Building

Located next to the River Thames close to Kew Palace, the Sir Joseph Banks Centre for Economic Botany was built in 1985 under the Directorship of Professor E A Bell.

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Sir Joseph Banks Building

Sir Joseph Banks Building

Did you know? 

  • The Duke of Edinburgh viewed items from Kew’s Economic Botany Collection in the Sir Joseph Banks Centre for Economic Botany in May 2009. Artefacts included seeds collected by Darwin and sent to Kew Director Joseph Hooker for germination experiments.
  • You can view artefacts from the collection in the Plants+People exhibition in Museum No. 1.
  • Items in Kew’s Economic Botany Collection include the world’s oldest dated rubber product - a water bottle from 1814; dates found in Tutankhamun’s tomb; and waterproof paper overshoes collected in Japan in the 1870s.

 

Historical information

Located next to the River Thames close to Kew Palace, the Sir Joseph Banks Building was built in 1985 under the Directorship of Professor E A Bell. The architect was commissioned to design a building that would minimise energy use and reduce maintenance costs. Only the curved glazed roof is easily visible from the Gardens, as much of the building is underground. A thick layer of soil covers its massive concrete frame, providing the required insulation and conserving energy. The surrounding site is landscaped with two lakes connected by a waterfall.

The building is not open to the public; it houses the 83,000 artefacts that make up Kew’s Economic Botany Collection. Until recently it was also home to Kew’s publishing department, which produces books and Kew Magazine, but this has now moved into the new Herbarium and Library Wing Extension.

The building is named after Sir Joseph Banks, who was Kew’s unofficial director during the late 18th century. Banks despatched the first plant collectors to far-flung parts of the world to seek out exotic species and made Kew one of the foremost botanical gardens in the world.

The west wing of the building is available for hire as a venue for weddings or Private events.




1 comment on 'Joseph Banks Building'

Judith says

08/10/2009 12:00:00 AM | Report abuse

It is fitting that this building should be named after Banks and I guess that the reason it is closed to the public is related to the value of the collections. I am interested seeing some of Banks' collections. I come from southern Western Australia - the hot spot for Banksias.


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