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Museum Exhibitions
Current Exhibit

Grafting the Grape: American Grapevine Rootstock in Missouri and the World

OPEN NOW through March 2022

Vitis aestivalis grapes detail

For millennia, humans have cultivated wine as a drink and for social, religious, and economic power. Drunk for social communion, held as a symbol of elite status, and offered in ritual ceremonies, wine made from the grapes of Vitis vinifera has been shipped and transplanted around the world, with the earliest winemaking traditions found in central Asia thousands of years ago. Today, wine enthusiasts are very familiar with the world-renowned wines that are grown in Europe, South America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Yet, drinking wine from this grape species would not be possible today without the research, identification, and development of 19th-century Missouri botanists, entomologists, and viticulturists.

A key culprit in this agricultural innovation is the result of an insect, Grape phylloxera, which found its way from the American Midwest to the vineyards of Europe in the 1850s; by the 1870s it had devastated the wine grape crop there, attacking and feeding on the plants’ roots to the point of killing the plants completely. It was the work of the Garden’s first botanist, Dr. George Engelmann, and the Missouri state entomologist Charles V. Riley, that identified the lifecycle of grape phylloxera (as evidenced on the native American grapevine plants and rootstock) as the cause of the devastation. In detecting the root cause of the problem, Engelmann and Riley worked with viticulturists to promulgate the idea of grafting the European grapevine (the scion) onto the American grapevine rootstock to allow for the European winemaking traditions to continue and develop as they had for centuries.
Contemporary artists were commissioned to make unique artworks interpreting this significant viticultural history and innovation. Dornith Doherty, renowned for her photographic work on seeds and global seedbanking, created three works in her series Roundabout (Circuition) especially created for the Grafting the Grape exhibition, which are inspired by the intersection of the historical innovation and the contemporary scientific research taking place in Dr. Allison Miller’s Vitis Underground project. Artist collaborators inspired by the impact of climate change on grapevines, Lei Han and Lorraine Walsh focused their work for Grafting the Grape on environmental shifts as seen through the seemingly disparate practices of ancient horticultural grafting techniques and contemporaneous machine learning (a subset of artificial intelligence). They created one sculpture, one series of drawings, two series of digital images, and three series of short films for the exhibition. Their art focuses on the native grapevine species Missouri Vitis aestivalis (also known as the Norton grape) and the process of this mediation in order to bring a fruitful awareness of the significant effect climatic change has on life. 

The Grafting the Grape exhibition explores the various American grape species that are most used in viticulture, grafting, and winemaking, and how they were and continue to be used by the Native peoples of Missouri. Today, these American grapevine rootstock species continue to provide research challenges as scientists study and understand how the rootstock plants affect the scion plant’s berries and chemical compounds (which affect the final wine product) as well as how climate change is impacting the future of viticulture around the world. 

Sponsored by

The Thomas A. Kooyumjian Family Foundation

Tony and Cindy Kooyumjian

National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program 1546869

The Missouri Botanical Garden’s Corporate Council with gifts from:

Neil Adams; Commerce Bank; Christi Dixon; C. Eric Lobser; Linda Lockwood; Protiviti; Regions Bank; Chris Schmidt; Julia Steininger; UMB Bank; UHY Advisors; Steve Wang

Upcoming Virtual Events:

ASL interpretation and live captioning provided for each program, and presentations will be recorded for later viewing on the Missouri Botanical Garden YouTube channel.

 Grafting the Grape Virtual Lecture Series: 
Watch Now: Missouri Vines and Wines: Then and Now
Watch Now: Archeology of American Indigenous peoples' use of grapes
Watch Now: Missouri Viticulture in a Family Vineyard
July 27: Choctaw Foodways
August 14: Art and Science Dialog
September 15: Climate Change in Art

Artists Dornith Doherty, Lei Han, and Lorraine Walsh
•Allison Miller, Saint Louis University and Danforth Plant Science Center; National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program 1546869.  
•Keith Duncan, manager of the X-ray imaging facility and research scientist in Chris Topp's lab at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
•Laura L. Klein, Head Curator, Director of Herbal Research, LeafWorks Inc.; and Alex Roach, Director, Modified atmospheres, Australia 
•Michael J. Leonardelli, exhibition researcher and Aurora Prehn, exhibition researcher 
•Susan Kooiman, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; Emma Warner, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
•Additional Sachs Museum program series presenters: Ian Thompson, Choctaw Nation Tribal Preservation Officer; Steffie Littlefield and Cyndy Keesee, Edg-Clif Vineyard, Winery & Brewery
•Thomas F. Bush, Bush family descendant and Missouri Botanical Garden volunteer
•David Maghradze, Institute of Horticulture, Viticulture and Oenology, Tbilisi, Georgia & National Wine Agency of Georgia; Tamar Maghradze, Viticulture & Enology University of Turin; Marina Mosulishvili, Ilia State University, Curator Georgian National Museum, TGM Herbarium; Nana Bitsadze, Agricultural University of Georgia, Curator Mycological Herbarium and Fungal Culture Collection; Anzor Uzunashvili, Winemaker Mukado Wines.
•Special acknowledgments to Garden staff who shared their expertise and collections on view here: Dr. Peter Wyse Jackson, Jim Solomon, Mary Merello, Sally Bommarito, Lauren Boyle, Fred Gauna, Tad Yankoski, Chris Hartley, Jennifer Smock, Robbie Hart, Aurora Prehn, Haley O’Toole, Cassidy Moody, Doug Holland, Andrew Colligan, Mike Blomberg, Susie Cobbledick, and Garden designers Mary Shocklee and Ellen Flesch.
•Especial thanks to the Sachs Museum remote interns who contributed to the research, text, and illustrations of the exhibition: Alexandra Lebovitz, Megan Rossman, Anne Farrell, Natalia Granquist, Heather Sheppard, Danielle Griffin, Elias Larralde, Isobel Abbot-Dethrow, Eleanor Schulz, Kyra Tani Little, Edina Krantic, Charlotte Filiciotto, Anna Wachtel, Kimberly Schwartz, Yukeria Haywood, Mackenzie Shields, and Alex Arata.


Past Exhibits

Nymphs of the Garden: The Water Lilies by Arslan (August 2020–June 2021)

August 2020–March 2021  
Les Nymphéas: A Different Point of View, Immersion, Reflections by Arslan, Oil on canvas, Ca. 2019–2020, Courtesy of The Bee in the Lion, gallery in New York; Photo credit: Virginia Harold.

Humans have been captivated by water lilies for millennia. As one of the earliest known groups of angiosperms (seed-producing flowering plants), water lilies are perfectly constructed for life on the water and in aquatic environments, both natural and human made. Native to tropical and temperate climates, the family Nymphaeaceae is named from the Greek for the mythical water nymphs, feminine nature spirits that presided over bodies of water. Appearing in the fossil record from the Early Cretaceous period (125–115 million years ago), water lilies have been found as seeds, flowers, stems, pollen, and leaves. As aquatic rhizomatic plants, water lilies are rooted in soil in water, and the flowers and leaves emerge and float on the water’s surface; they are pollinated by beetles, bees, and flies, but can also be self-or wind-pollinated. The ancient cultures of Egypt and Mexico were mesmerized by water lilies. These plants represented several deities, and the underworld, and were often considered a symbol of rebirth and everlasting life. 



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The Missouri Botanical Garden has one of the most significant and historic live collections of water lilies. Since the late 19th century, the Garden has hosted aquatic plants on the grounds and in the greenhouses, and several horticultural specialists have focused their talents and vision to propagate and design the Garden’s water lily pools to have a spectacular show of many species and cultivars every summer. This exhibition focuses on the Garden’s history and collections of these exquisite plants and offers an aesthetic interpretation of the beauty of the Garden’s water lilies’ by artist Arslan, who was inspired by Claude Monet’s important series of water lily paintings, Les Nymphéas, which are on permanent view at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. Enjoy the artworks and specimens in the exhibition, and then make sure to find and delight in the water lilies as they grow and bloom in the pools around the Garden from May to October. 


Virtual Offerings 


Explore the exhibit virtually

Watch the official exhibit video

Read the exhibit publication

See more of the exhibit and learn about its production

Immerse yourself in Arslan's paintings with a guided meditation

Dive into the Garden's water lily pools with a guided meditation

Explore Claude Monet's dual passions for fine arts and horticulture

Download the Nymphs of the Garden activity sheet


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Grateful thanks to Deborah and Patrick Starke and W. William and Kelly Haines for their support of the exhibition, in loving memory of Dorris Bachman Haines Davis.

Special acknowledgments to all contributors to the exhibition: Arslan, Bee Tham, Derek Lyle, Tom Incrocci, Mary Merello, Lauren Peters, Sally Bommarito, Rita Chiodini, Fred Gauna, Tad Yankoski, Chris Hartley, Andrew Colligan, Mike Blomberg, and Sachs Museum interns Elizabeth Allison, Taylour Whelan, Sarah Peskar, and Justin Rulo-Sabe.






Potato (Solanum tuberosum): Apple of the Earth (November 2019-March 2020)

Click here to view the publication for Potato (Solanum tuberosum): Apple of the Earth


In addition to being a favorite Thanksgiving side dish, the potato is the most important non-cereal food crop in the world and is a significant part of the diet of more than 1.5 billion people. The exhibition at the Stephen and Peter Sachs Museum highlighted botany, history and contemporary art focused on this underestimated tuber around the globe.
“It has such an interesting story,” Sachs Museum Curator Nezka Pfeifer said. “It’s gone from being an American plant to being ubiquitous around the world.”

Its story continues today as the potato’s pervasiveness ties it to global issues including climate change, food insecurity and food sovereignty.
The Sachs Museum show included 40 specimens from the Garden’s herbarium representing a variety of potato species found in different parts of the world. The exhibit also showcased tools used for farming and cooking potatoes, including antique agriculture tools and more than 100 potato mashers from many different countries. Other items, like Mr. And Mrs. Potato Head, highlight the potato’s role in pop culture.
The South and Lower Level Galleries feature work from contemporary artists Seamus O. Hames, Dornith Doherty, and Corina Kennedy. Each artist has interpreted the unique story of this food crop in their artworks, especially the historic impact of the late potato blight that devastated the potato crop in Ireland in the mid-19th century.

Happy Birthday, Humboldt! An exhibit on Alexander von Humboldt (September 2019 - March 2020)

The Garden celebrated the 250th birthday of famed explorer Alexander von Humboldt with a new exhibit at the Stephen and Peter Sachs Museum. Humboldt's journey through Latin America at the turn of the 19th century uncovered more than 3,000 plants new to science, and his detailed observations led to a groundbreaking understanding of the natural world. Visitors learned how his discoveries are still influencing Garden botanists today.

Leafing Through History: The Plants That Make Paper (June-October 2019)

Download a copy of the paper exhibition publication here.

Plants comprise 90% of what we use or make on a daily basis, and yet we overlook them or take them for granted regularly. One of the most important—and ubiquitous—plant products is paper. Paper has made an indelible impact on human history, particularly in writing, design, art, and the spread of information through books and newspapers.

In honor of the first anniversary (the paper anniversary!) of the Stephen and Peter Sachs Museum reopening to the public at the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Leafing Through History exhibition is the Museum’s first interdisciplinary exhibition, which highlights the science, history, and art of paper and papermaking. 

Grateful thanks to Nancy and Kenneth Kranzberg for their support of the exhibition.


Special acknowledgments to lenders and collaborators James Lucas, Michael Powell, Megan Singleton, Mimi Phelan of Midland Paper, Dr. Shirley Graham, Greg Johnson of Johnson Paper, and the Campbell House Museum for their contributions to the exhibition.

Many thanks to the artists who have shared their work with the exhibition: Beth Johnson, Cekouat Léon, Isabella Myers, Jon Tucker, Nguyễn Quyết Tiến, Rob Snyder, Robert Lang, Shoko Nakamura, Shuki Kato, and Catherine Liu.

The Sachs Museum would also like to acknowledge a number of divisions of the Missouri Botanical Garden--Herbarium, William L. Brown Center for Excellence, Horticulture Division, Tower Grove House, Peter H. Raven Library, Education Division, and the Earthways Center--for sharing collections and expertise in the exhibition.

Connecting the Pieces: Dialogues on the Amache Archaeology Collection (April-May 2019)

In partnership with the St. Louis chapter of the Japanese America Citizens League (JACL), the Sachs Museum hosted this exhibit, which told the story of Japanese Americans imprisoned at the Amache Internment Camp in Southeastern Colorado during World War II and the gardens they created while detained. 

Colorado's tenth largest city during World War II was Amache, a one-mile square incarceration facility surrounded by barbed wire, guard towers, and the scrub of the High Plains.

Over the course of three years, over 10,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry lived there, yet their experience is muted in our national discourse. The objects in this exhibit, fragments of those uprooted lives, encourage dialogue about this history.

On May 5th, exhibit curator Dr. Bonnie Clark gave a special presentation on the archaeology of gardens and gardeners at Amache; many of the inhabitants of the internment camp were displaced from farming communities and had a special talent for coaxing life even from the stubborn soil of the high plains. The exhibition featured 9 panels with text and photos, as well as 7 artifacts found during the archaeological dig on the camp.

Botanical Art Worldwide: America's Flora (February-May 2019)

Curated by the American Society of Botanical Artists and the United States Botanical Garden, Botanical Art Worldwide: America's Flora brought 46 botanical artworks of America's native plants to the Garden for a limited time in the spring of 2019.

ASBA artists worked over four years on the project, creating 240 images of U.S. native plants, from which 46 were selected by jurors. Plants from around the country are featured, including saguaro cactus from the desert Southwest, bigleaf maple from the West Coast, bottlebrush buckeye from the eastern seaboard, and bloodroot, spanning the midwestern and eastern U.S. Familiar plants are shown, including sunflowers and violets, as well as rare species such as lady’s slipper orchids. Artists worked in a variety of media to portray their subjects, many in watercolor, but also in oil, colored pencil, pen and ink, and etching.

Botanical Art Worldwide: America’s Flora is part of a worldwide project, which launched nationally focused exhibitions that are simultaneously on view in 25 countries on six continents. Each exhibition features original contemporary artwork of its country’s native plants portrayed by resident artists. Visitors to each exhibition can explore a digital presentation of artworks in the other 24 countries’ Botanical Art Worldwide exhibitions.

This global collaboration aims to increase appreciation and understanding of the world’s plant diversity and to link people with plants through botanical art. The project seeks to raise awareness of the growing interest in botanical art while documenting plant species around the world. Participating countries include Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Scotland, Southern Africa, South Korea, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States.

New Caledonia: A Pacific Botanical Hotspot (August-December 2018)


The island of New Caledonia is a globally recognized biodiversity ‘hotspot,’ characterized by a rich flora and a large number of endemic species (i.e., plants found nowhere else on earth), combined with highly threatened natural ecosystems.

New Caledonia has about 3,400 native plant species, nearly three-quarters of which are endemic. By comparison, Missouri has fewer than 2,000 native species, no endemic species, and is 10 times the size.

This exhibit featured a selection of some of the most interesting, rare, and highly threatened species in New Caledonia. It showed where each species occurs and it explained the unique situation each of them faces. The exhibit was prepared by our colleagues at the New Caledonia Plant Red List Authority, who are carefully assessing the conservation status of the island’s plant species, and who kindly provided the beautiful panels so that they could be shared.

The Missouri Botanical Garden has been studying the plants of New Caledonia since the 1970s. Garden staff members Gordon McPherson and Pete Lowry have been working there since the beginning of this relationship, and they regularly visit the island to conduct field work. Their discoveries include Hooglandia, a genus new to science in the family Cunoniaceae, collected during an expedition to Mt. Ignambi in 2002. They have published nearly 60 works dealing with New Caledonia and have named more than 50 species.

Painting Meadows with Delight (April-December 2018)

The Garden is world-renowned for its herbarium, horticulture, research, library and rare books collection, and it also boasts a wide-ranging historic art and archival collection that is not often seen by the public. Painting Meadows with Delight was a chance to view of some of the important paintings and works on paper amassed by Garden founder Henry Shaw and successive leaders of the Garden. Among the featured artworks were illustrations from historical botanical texts, paintings and prints highlighting the interpretation and symbolism of plants, and watercolors by highly regarded botanical artists documenting plant species around the world.

Hours and Admission

The Stephen and Peter Sachs Museum officially reopens on July 7, 2021. The Museum is open 11:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Tuesday–Sunday and is free with regular Garden admission.

Check back here for more virtual offerings of our current exhibits, and follow the Garden's social media channels for more Sachs Museum content.