Our first full day in Paris was also the last full day of our tour. Since our tour guide works for the Jardin des Plantes and the Missouri Botanical Garden has a couple of people with offices there, we had amazing backstage access. Here’s our group walking across the plaza in front of the Great Gallery of Evolution on our way to the Central Library:
In the Central Library, we were able to see, up close and personal, some of the famous vellum collection. Here’s what the booklet we were given says about them:
The same decree entrusted the Museum library with responsibility for the collection known as the King’s Vellum, containing original watercolours painted for the most part on the hides of still-born calves. The collection was started by Gaston d’Orléans, the brother of King Louis XIII. He commissioned the first watercolours, inspired by the plants cultivated in his garden and the birds in his aviary, to decorate his cabinet; in return the new institution was to ensure their preservation while also adding to the collection.
The works are beautiful. Some are painted by the most famous illustrators of their day, including many by P.-J. Redouté, known as “the Raphael of flowers.” They are also important scientific documents, especially for species that have since gone extinct.
We visited the Herbarium where dried specimens of plants are stored. It’s currently being renovated. The designers visited the Herbarium at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis and used many of the same ideas so we were able to see them implemented. Here’s some of the construction.
We walked through the “Botanical School,” a section of the garden organized by families and genus to help people understand taxonomy. We had time for a quick walk through the greenhouses. Perhaps the most interesting collection in the greenhouses was the one that displayed plants from New Caledonia.
On Monday, I’ll post photos from inside the oldest building in the small zoo on the grounds of the Jardin des Plantes and a review of a book about its most famous resident.
There are more photos from Jardin des Plantes and the rest of our France trip on my Flickr page: Joy’s Photostream.
This is a post for Saturday Snapshot at West Metro Mommy Reads. She has lovely beach photos today and links to many other photos around the web today.