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Our History
The Garden officially opened on June 15, 1859. Original buildings still on grounds include the Linnean House, Tower Grove House, and the Museum Building, which reopened as the Stephen and Peter Sachs Museum in 2018. Founder Henry Shaw, by will upon his death, left the Garden in trust to a group of St. Louis citizens and their successors, to be maintained “for all time” for the public benefit. Thus, to this day, the Garden remains a Missouri charitable trust operated by a board of trustees on a fiduciary basis pursuant to the Shaw will.

Shaw Nature Reserve opened in 1925. At one time the Nature Reserve was considered as a potential future home for the Garden. Today, it is a showcase of native plants and landscapes encompassing more than 2,000 acres along the Meramec River in Franklin County, Missouri. 

On October 1, 1960, the Climatron opened to the public. The Climatron is the first geodesic dome to be used as a conservatory. Its interior features a tropical rainforest climate that is both for public display and actively used by our research staff for their plant studies. 

Dedicated in 1977, our 14-acre Japanese Garden, one of the largest in North America, represents an evolution of centuries of tradition and a multiplicity of distinctly Japanese cultural influences. 

In 2001, the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House in Chesterfield became part of the Garden. 

In April 2006, the Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden opened. A Missouri-themed outdoor playscape introduces youngsters at their most impressionable age to the significance of plants and nature in fun and innovative ways. 

Opening in 2022, the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center will help us continue serving St. Louis and our guests from around the world for generations, significantly expanding the Garden’s ability to educate, entertain, and engage visitors in more ways. The Garden’s updated entry experience includes a dynamic, diverse landscape of species that beautifully illustrate the story of the Garden’s global mission.

Our Mission

“To discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life”
mission of the Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis was founded in 1859 by Henry Shaw. Today, 160 years after opening, the Garden is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science, conservation, education and horticultural display — widely considered one of the top three botanical gardens in the world.

Illustrated History



View rare, archival images and learn more about our rich legacy at the Illustrated History of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

More than five hundred images are available for viewing. These include glass plate negatives, hand-tinted prints, stereographs, postcards and manuscripts.