GLENCOE, Ill. (January 29, 2014) – The Exotic Orchids: Orchestrated in Print rare book exhibition gives visitors a glimpse into the Victorian orchid craze and makes the case for the conservation and restoration of sensitive habitats. Many of the species depicted in the beautiful scientific illustrations on display face environmental threats, according to Stacy Stoldt, curator of the Lenhardt Library’s latest rare book exhibition opening on Friday, February 14, in conjunction with the Orchid Show.
“The botanical illustrations contained in our rare book collection were the scientific record of their day,” said Stoldt, manager of public services. “Many of the orchids documented in earlier volumes have vanished. In some cases, rare books provide the only remaining opportunity to study and appreciate these fascinating plants.”
Orchids have intrigued humans since antiquity, according to Stoldt. The discovery of wild orchid varieties throughout the world led to the Victorian orchid craze, known as orchid mania or “Orchidelerium.” In testimony to this fascination, the exhibition will display plates from The Orchid Album, Comprising Coloured Figures and Descriptions of New, Rare, and Beautiful Orchidaceous Plants. The landmark work of 11 volumes was published in London from 1882 to 1897.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to view works from nineteenth-century Swiss painter Emilie Prades Vouga and Art Nouveau illustrator Henry (Henri-Lucien) Lambert. Illustrations from nineteenth-century editions of Curtis Botanical Magazine, published by Kew Gardens, and an image of Darwin’s orchid (Angraecum sesquipedale) will also be featured, along with notes and drawings of leading nineteenth-century orchidologists, such as Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Kränzlin of Hamburg and English naturalist Philip Henry Gosse.
Exotic Orchids: Orchestrated in Printcontinues through Sunday, May 11. The library will adjust its weekend hours to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and remain open on President’s Day, February 17, to accommodate the Orchid Show. A library talk interpreting the exhibition will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 9. Orchid-themed Monday story times will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. on February 17 and 24, and March 3 and 10.