Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

A Research Division of Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Hunt Institute specializes in the history of botany and all aspects of plant science and serves the international scientific community through research and documentation. The Institute was dedicated in 1961 as the Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt Botanical Library, an international center for bibliographical research and service in the interests of botany and horticulture, as well as a center for the study of all aspects of the history of the plant sciences. By 1971 the Library’s activities had so diversified that the name was changed to Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. Growth in collections and research projects led to the establishment of four programmatic departments: Archives, Art, Bibliography and the Library. The current collections include approximately 24,000+ portraits; 200+ archival collections; 29,504 watercolors, drawings and prints; 243,000+ data files; and 30,429 book and serial titles.

The Art Department holdings include original paintings (mostly 20th-century watercolors), drawings and original prints dating from the Renaissance to the present. These holdings constitute one of the world's largest collections of botanical art and illustration. The department serves as an international center for the study of botanical art and illustration, acting as a repository for botanical artworks, providing access to information on artists working with plant themes and worldwide holdings of botanical art, and organizing and staging exhibitions. The Art collection is fully catalogued and is available on the Web site as the Catalogue of the Botanical Art Collection at the Hunt Institute database, to which thumbnail images are slowly being added. The Institute established the International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration series in 1964 with the hope of supporting and encouraging contemporary botanical artists. Every three years, the International series attracts talented botanical artists from around the world. Collectively, the catalogues from the International exhibitions contain the most comprehensive record available of 20th–21st-century botanical artists and illustrators—the number of individuals represented now totals 1,129.

The Archives, Bibliography Department and Library collections complement and support the Art Department’s botanical art collection. The Archives specializes in biographical information about, and portraits of, scientists, illustrators and all others in the plant sciences and houses over 200 collections of correspondence, field notes, manuscripts and other writings. The Archives also keeps biographical data on and portraits of botanical artists represented in the International exhibition series. The Bibliography Department maintains comprehensive data files on the history and bibliography of botanical literature. Known for its collection of historical works on botany dating from the late 1400s to the present, the Library’s collection focuses on the development of botany as a science and also includes herbals (eight are incunabula), gardening manuals and florilegia, many of them pre-Linnaean. Modern taxonomic monographs, floristic works and serials as well as selected works in medical botany, economic botany, landscape architecture and a number of other plant-related topics are also represented. The Library also includes biographies of and manuals by contemporary botanical artists.

Compiled by Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, source: http://huntbot.andrew.cmu.edu/

  • Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation - Reading Room
    Carnegie Mellon University
    Photo by Jody Williams
  • Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation - Library
    Carnegie Mellon University
    Photo by Jody Williams
  • Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation - Gallery
    Carnegie Mellon University
    Photo by Jody Williams