Harvard University’s hidden gem: the Ware Collection of glass flowers

One of Harvard University’s most famous treasures is the internationally acclaimed Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, the “Glass Flowers.” In collaboration with Jennifer Brown, Collection Manager for the Glass Flowers, Scott E. Fulton, Conservator for the Glass Flowers, and Donald H. Pfister, Asa Gray Professor of Systematic Botany and Curator of the Farlow Library and Herbarium of Cryptogamic Botany, Photographer Natalja Kent captures the stunning beauty of the Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants in new book ‘Glass Flowers: Marvels of Art and Science at Harvard’.

This unique collection of more than 4.300 individual models, representing 780 plant species, was created by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, a father and son team of Czech glass artists. From orchids to bananas, rhododendrons to lilies, they created a stunning array of glass models of plants from around the world. Working exclusively for Harvard in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Blaschkas applied their artistic expertise and botanical knowledge to craft a meticulously portrayed for Harvard students, researchers, and the public. The collection was begun in 1886 through the efforts of George Lincoln Goodale (1839-1923), a Havard professor and, from 1888, director of the university’s Botanical Museum, one of several institutions that are now joined under the Harvard University Herbaria. Mrs. Elizabeth C. Ware and her daughter Mary Lee Ware financed the collection. The collection demonstrates the majesty of plants and the artistry and scientific acumen of this father and son team and is the only one of its kind in the world. Nowadays the exquisite details are captured in the dazzling new publication, featuring new photography of models that inspire wonder and blur the line between the real and man-made.

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