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Library, Art & Archives blog

Browse our blogs to find information about Kew's collections, services and fascinating work that is taking place. You will also meet the Library, Art and Archive staff who will provide regular updates with news from projects they are involved in, treasures they have discovered and exciting new developments planned for the future.
Contemporary view of the Temperate House
25th May 2018

Celebrating the Temperate House: “The Largest Plant House in the World” 1863–1899

To celebrate the restoration and reopening of the Temperate House, Kiri Ross-Jones tells the story of the original construction of the building, which took over forty years, as told through Kew’s archives.
Painting equipment
18th May 2018

The Botanical Eye

On World Botanical Art Day (18 May 2018) we would like to celebrate the achievements of all botanical illustrators, and commend those freelance artists who work at Kew and contribute to its associated scientific publications and monographs.
Document from Kew's archives
4th May 2018

Spotlighting the unique in the Archives

In this blog, Cam Sharp Jones explores some of the unique and interesting items housed in the Archive collections of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Family fun and garden adventures this Easter - Kew Peter Rabbit image
29th March 2018

Beatrix Potter: Tales from the Archives

With Peter Rabbit coming to Kew and Wakehurst this Easter, Archivist Kiri Ross-Jones explores items in the Archives collection relating to Peter’s creator - the author, illustrator and mycologist, Beatrix Potter.
Cherry blossom and the Palm House
16th March 2018

Sakura Season in the Gardens

In celebration of one of the most spectacular and welcome events in the garden calendar, Library Graduate Trainee Andy Farquhar goes in search of materials relating to the blossom trees that will shortly be exploding into colour. Winter is behind us, the days are slowly lengthening, and Sakura season is about to begin.
The frozen face of Chimborazo at 19,660ft with detail (right) from ‘Excursions near Quito, Ecuador 1831’
23rd February 2018

Francis Hall in South America

Recent re-shelving in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Archives has brought to light two volumes of manuscripts and illustrations of a botanical journey of discovery in South America. In this blog Assistant Archivist Kat Harrington explores the life and work of the author of these volumes - Colonel Francis Hall.
Wolfson rare books room - orchid display
16th February 2018

Orchids Festival: Learn in our Library

Kew is hosting the 23rd annual Orchids Festival and offering a host of fascinating talks, tours and courses as part of this. To celebrate this our new exhibition also has an orchid theme, and includes original illustrations, archive materials and beautiful hand-crafted 3-dimensional orchids.
Damage to Kew Gardens
2nd February 2018

Fire and broken petals: How the Suffragettes made their mark on Kew

In this blog, Archives Graduate Trainee Saffron Mackay delves into Kew’s connection with the Suffragettes in the new Wolfson Display found in the Library, Art & Archives Reading Room. The display celebrates 100 years since women have had the right to vote and Kew’s 23rd Annual Orchid Festival.
Kew Registry file
26th January 2018

Exploring 90 years of Registry: from Great Pagoda to Great Storm

Kew’s Registry will have been in existence for 90 years this year. Established in 1928, much has happened at RBG Kew since this time and it has been well recorded thanks to the Registry system. In this blog I will explore some of the interesting registered files which have been transferred to the Archives but first a little about the history of Registry…
Grosse Klatschrose, Papaver rhoeas
12th January 2018

From poppies to pixels

Digitisation is transforming access to Kew’s unique Library, Art & Archives collections. Metadata & Digitisation Officer Joanna Durant tells us more about the work involved and Kew's contributions towards the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL).
Sylvan Winter oak engraving
5th January 2018

Not just for Christmas

With winter now upon us and the leaves long gone, the natural structural beauty of trees is revealed. Library Graduate Trainee Andy Farquhar discovers a hidden gem on trees during the season that is both representative of our collections and yet wonderfully distinctive.
Title pages of some of Hooker publications
8th December 2017

Putting the world's plants on paper: Joseph Dalton Hooker and his scientific publications

As the celebrations for Joseph Dalton Hooker’s bicentenary year come to a close, Cam Sharp Jones explores Joseph Hooker’s scientific publications and the process through which these works were produced.
Explore Your Archive logo image
17th November 2017

Explore Your Archive: Explore Botany

This month the Archives team at Kew will be welcoming visitors to special events exploring a variety of plant collectors, and giving visitors a chance to glimpse behind the scenes in the Archives department.
Joseph Dalton Hooker redacted letter
10th November 2017

Censors in the Archive: Redaction in Joseph Dalton Hooker's correspondence

Who has been censoring Joseph Hooker’s archive? Archivist Virginia speculates on a collection of Joseph Hooker’s letters that have been heavily redacted and have piqued curiosity in the archive.
27th October 2017

Kewensia: a history of the supernatural at the Gardens

Our newest Archives Graduate trainee Saffron Mackay explores the supernatural side of Kew through material found in the Kewensia collection.
‘Pyramids’, pencil sketch by Joseph Hooker, 1847
13th October 2017

‘Infinitely more curious than handsome’: Joseph Dalton Hooker and the Pyramids

Cam Sharp Jones explores some of the illustrative works produced by Joseph Dalton Hooker held in Kew’s art and archive collections, particularly those from a visit that Hooker undertook to see the Pyramids in Egypt.
Ask and Archivist 2017
29th September 2017

#AskAnArchivist Day 2017

On 4 October, archives around the world are taking part in #AskAnArchivist Day on twitter. Find out how you can ask Kew’s Archive Team a question.
Plants of "red bark" (Cinchona succirubra) collected by Richard Spruce and Robert Cross in Ecuador on arrival at Ootacamund, Nilgiris, 9th April 1861
8th September 2017

Richard Spruce: Botany on a global scale

Our new Reading Room exhibition explores the career of one of the most extraordinary and modest of Victorian naturalists, Richard Spruce, as part of celebrations at Kew to mark the bicentenary of his birth. The exhibition brings together Spruce’s diverse collections including his original collecting notebooks, correspondence, illustrations, herbarium specimens and ethnobotanical collections.
Photo of some letters sent from Joseph Hooker to George Bentham
18th August 2017

'My dear Bentham' - a Harvard Summer School visit to Kew

On the 26th June 2017, The Joseph Hooker Correspondence Project welcomed a group of undergraduates from Harvard University to Kew as part of their ‘Darwin & Evolutionary Biology Summer School’. Victoria Tong, one of the visiting students here explores some of the activities the group undertook during their two weeks at Kew.
Picture of hedges sent to John Lowe
28th July 2017

Yew, Me and Dr. John Lowe: Cataloguing the John Lowe Papers

Francesca Mackenzie shares her week in Archives cataloguing the fascinating papers of John Lowe