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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.

‘If you can paint one leaf you can paint the world’

In this latest post from the gallery, Dr Shirley Sherwood shares how she curated her current exhibition: Portraits of Leaves and Fungi, paintings from the Shirley Sherwood Collection.

Conserving Exsiccata for the Clothworkers’ Foundation

Kew's Exsiccata collection is being returned to its former glories as part of a special project funded by the Clothworkers’ Foundation. Sarai looks at the fascinating story of Marion Jean Catherine Adams-Acton, nee Hamilton (1846-1928) who compiled one of the volumes in this collection.

Brugmansia: illusions, insanity and imperceptible buried treasure

Meet the plant that is widely known to produce dangerous hallucinogenic effects but was once used to discover mines and buried treasure – as digitisation officer, Jess Smith, explains.
Photograph of botanical illustration of raspberries by Edward Lear

Nonsense in the Archives

Letters by nonsense writer and ornithological artist Edward Lear — found in Kew's Archives — led to an exploration of Lear’s lesser-known talents as a botanical artist and travel writer.
Photo of Howell and Co. catalogue cover.

From walking sticks to the YZ collection: a brief history of Henry Howell and Co.

Take a peek into Kew Gardens’ library and economic botany collections to learn about Henry Howell & Co., once the world’s largest manufacturer of walking sticks.
Marianne North - Distant View of Mount Fujiyama, Japan, and Wistaria

Flora Japonica: Marianne North’s Japan

To coincide with the Flora Japonica exhibition in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, we look to Marianne North’s depictions of Japan, which represent the country as she saw it in 1875.

The living fossil

Library Graduate Trainee, Tavian Hunter, describes books, letters and paintings in the Kew collections about the remarkable species Welwitschia mirabilis, the 'living fossil'.

Exploring new frontiers!

The Director's Correspondence Digitisation Team is embarking on a new project. Join us as we journey back in time to 19th Century North America to uncover more tales of exploration, discovery and tragedy.

Love in the Archives

Read about love letters in Kew's Archives

C.S.P. Parish and the orchids of Burma

The Directors' Correspondence Team reveals the artistic talents of an amateur orchid enthusiast in Burma at the end of the 19th century.

Displaying the letters of Augustine Henry

The Directors' Correspondence team has just put some of the letters of botanist Augustine Henry on display in Kew's Library Reading Room. Find out why we chose him as our subject and how the display brings together material from many of Kew's behind-the-scenes collections.

Growing our Collections - Archive accessions at Kew

Find out how Kew's archival collections are growing, what we do with the documents we receive each year and how you can get involved.

Driving home for Christmas?

Discover Marianne North's travels over Christmases long, long ago

The influence of a German botanist on studies at Kew

Graduate trainee Tavian Hunter sheds light on Kew's links with German botany before the Great War.
Photo of a page from Hooke's 'Micrographia' showing a nettle

Robert Hooke's Micrographia

350 years old, Robert Hooke's Micrographia is a hidden treasure in Kew's library — one you may not expect to find there.

John Ray: in a class[ification] of his own

Library Graduate Trainee Jessica Hudson explores the significance of John Ray's work in sowing the seeds of modern taxonomy.
William Hooker and a case of mistaken identity

William Hooker and a case of mistaken identity

Julia Buckley looks at the story of William Hooker, Kew's first official Director, and also William Hooker the illustrator and tries to separate the two.

Christmas illustrations in the Library Reading Room

The Library and Archives Reading Room is hosting a small but beautifully formed display of illustrations of festive plants. Assistant Art & Illustrations Curator, Lynn Parker, explains more.

The beginnings of Missouri Botanical Garden

Letter and plans from Kew's Directors' Correspondence archive give a glimpse into the humble beginnings of one of botany's most revered institutions - Missouri Botanical Garden - and its founder Henry Shaw.

Archives 'Take Flight'

Read about archives that might take off! Find out more about some of the fantastic documents and illustrations we have in the collection at Kew.