Flutter in for the “Beautiful Butterflies and Botanicals” Exhibit at Alden

Beautiful botanicals and butterflies are blossoming and flying onto the fifth floor of Alden Library! Starting April 15, 2012 the “Beautiful Butterflies and Botanicals” exhibit will be providing an informational look at the study of botany and butterflies throughout history in an eye-catching display of rare and beautifully illustrated texts.

“[Butterflies and botanicals] complement each other, need each other, and are beautiful images,” said Judith Connick, Special Collections librarian and exhibit curator

The pages on display range from handwritten notes and drawings on sheepskin from the 15th century to a hand-assembled pop-up book from 1993. These texts are just a small sample of the treasures housed in the Rare Book Collections in the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections.. The colorful depictions of butterflies and botanicals found in the rare books on display provide insight into not only the relationship between plants and insects, but also to the history of book illustration.

The illustrations include illuminated manuscripts, paintings, etchings, aquatint, a form of etching using rosin, and photography. Books on science, poetry, horticulture, and natural history are included as well. Captain Cook’s collection of botanical illustrations, “The Naturalist’s Library of Butterflies,” and the “Grimani Breviary” are a few examples.

“These illustrations complement the text and provide information in their own right. As science has evolved, accurate representations for identification, teaching and research became necessary,” said Connick.

Facts about plants and butterflies are sprinkled throughout the displays providing a treat not only for the eye, but for the mind as well. For instance, did you know that butterflies taste sugar through their front legs? The exhibit runs in conjunction with the “Butterflies in Our Midst” exhibit at the Kennedy Museum of Art, a blend of real butterflies and butterfly inspired art that will entertain the whole family.

The exhibit is only perched on the fifth floor until August 31 when it will flutter away, so be sure to check it out.