Monday, July 20, 2009

Exquisite Glass Flowers at Harvard MNH

Image from the Harvard Museum of Natural History Website

Everyone we talked to about what museums to visit during our stay here in Boston said it - "You must see the glass flower exhibit." " You HAVE to see the glass flower exhibit." "You cannot leave Boston if you haven't see the glass flowers!"

Sunday we went to see the glass flowers. Housed in the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the famous flowers are indeed spectacular and actually kind of hard to really, really believe. As I walked along the aisles, peering into the cases full of glass specimens, I kept thinking, "These are glass........... not wax or some other composition that looks so authentic? How did they do that!?"

This collection of over 3,000 glass models was made by glass artist Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolph. The 19th century glass artisans, who perfected their family craft, were commissioned in 1886 to create models for teaching purposes. The father and son team lived in Germany and continued to create these incredible flowers for over 5 decades, from 1886 until 1936. Their studio was near Dresden, Germany and it is believed that the desk shown above was one of the work spaces for the duo.

The life size models are crafted entirely of glass using wire internally for support.The models are life size and include anatomical sections and enlarged flower parts for study.

Visitors examine row after row of realistic specimens . One can appreciate the flowers from a beauty perspective or study for hours for a scientific knowledge.

I loved both - the presentation for study, as well as the absolute beauty of each and every one of the flowers.

Can you even imagine that this is not a real cactus, but in fact a model made ENTIRELY of fine colored glass?

I loved this one - so, so pretty and so many delicate parts.

Although we went to see the glass flowers exhibit, the museum is an amazing place to see and learn so much about all aspects of the natural world. It is easy to navigate and chock full of examples of all kinds of animals, birds, fish, bugs, you name it ; if it is part of our world and natural history, it is there. One could spend days here, and it is a wonderful place for families with kids. For more information on the museum, go here.


  1. OMG. I've always wanted to see those glass specimens, ever since I read about them in "The Gardener's Life," by Laurence Sheehan. Thanks for letting us tag along.

  2. Wow...what an amazing art form. They do indeed look real!

  3. I have never been over there but I really need to. I think these pictures just sold me on taking the walk over. Everything is so beautiful!

  4. I've never seen such a thing! They are dazzling and wonderful. Thank you so much for introducing us to this art form. I'm gong to read up on it some more...

  5. Harvard Museum of Natural History is open 361 days/year..and just a short, 7-8 minute, walk across historic Harvard Yard from the Harvard Square T station. Cambridge, just across the Charles River from Boston, is known as Boston's "Left Bank" -- and so easy to get to. Our family loves the Glass Flowers, but also the dinosaurs, meteorites, gemstones, and hundreds of animals on display there.

  6. Anonymous - thanks for that information! Will you write for me? Just kidding - you are so fortunate to get to visit there often. I really enjoyed the other exhibits, too. I can see it is a place one would go back to over and over again - there is so much to see!! thanks for your visit to hill country house!

  7. omg.....i love these!! are you sure they're glass?! wow. i want...

    cheers, -susan



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