Museum Exhibitions

 

 Current Exhibit

 

Nymphs of the Garden: The Water Lilies by Arslan
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

See more of the exhibit and learn about its production

Immerse yourself in Arslan's paintings 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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Acknowledgments:

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Past Exhibits

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.

Hours and Admission

 

The Stephen and Peter Sachs Museum is currently closed to the public due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. 

In the meantime, follow this link to explore Nymphs of the Garden virtually.

Immerse yourself in Arslan's paintings with this guided meditation from the Missouri Botanical Garden's Therapeutic Horticulture team.

Learn more about the research and inspiration behind Nymphs of the Garden from Museum Curator Nezka Pfeifer.

Explore Claude Monet's dual passions for fine arts and horticulture in this article by Bee Tham.

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