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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.

Discovering the secrets of Japanese paper conservation

Paper conservator, Emma Le Cornu, describes a visit to Tokyo to learn the secrets of Japanese paper conservation.

Food for thought – some incredible edibles from Kew's DC archive

A peculiar pineapple, a recipe for pumpkin and some alternative appetisers – see what incredible edibles we've uncovered in Kew's DC Archive!

Brocken Spectres and Circular Rainbows

Many weird and wonderful subjects have been uncovered while digitising Kew's Directors' Correspondence collection. Read about a 19th century botanist's awe-inspiring encounter with a 'Spectre' in Jamaica's Blue mountains.

An introduction to Kew's Illustrations Team

Find out about the work of Kew's Illustrations Team and the world class resource they care for on a daily basis.

Roses are red, violets are blue...and human heads are sign of good luck!

As Valentine's Day approaches, discover the unusual way Taiwanese aborigines went about attracting a partner in the 19th Century, and why plant collector Richard Oldham said the Taiwan mountains were too dangerous a place to collect.

From Chelsea to Mount Fuji, the legacy of Veitch Nurseries

Harry Veitch brought the RHS flower show to Chelsea. His brother brought Japanese flora to Europe. Find out more about the Veitch's from Kew's Directors' Correspondence collection.

‘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.