Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Jardin des Plantes at the National Museum of Natural History - Paris, France

The Reopening of the Glasshouses of the Jardin des Plantes
A journey to the heart of biodiversity

For 2010, the international biodiversity year, the reopening of the Jardin des Plantes greenhouses is already considered to be a major event, in Europe as well as Paris, because the question of plant biodiversity is such a major concern today. The four entirely renovated and re-laid out greenhouses have undergone considerable work by architects, scenic decorators, scientists and gardeners, as well as associations specializing in disability. These classified buildings, of which the oldest dates back to 1714, had become especially fragile and dilapidated, suffering particularly from extremes of temperature and the effects of humidity. Their renovation started in 2005 to give them back their original appearance and modernize their functionality. From May, the public will once again be able to plunge into the natural world at any time of year for botanical discoveries. The scenographic aspect of the renovation of this veritable museum of the living plant world is revealed to the visitors who are guided through the greenhouses by an “intelligent” creeper of steel rubber. You enter through the large greenhouse of wet rainforests, built in 1935. The atmosphere here is hot and humid with dense vegetation, similar to that of a real rainforest. The paths are lined with ficus, palm trees, banana trees and vegetation from all over the Large trees, shrubs, large herbaceous plants, creepers, ferns and orchids; all these plants reflect the flora of the rainforest. The visit continues to the greenhouse of deserts and dry environments. Plants from deserts are displayed here in five plant displays defined according to the strategies they use to survive with a lack of water. A little further on in the New Caledonia greenhouse, you will discover the floral richness of this French, Pacific island considered to be a hot spot for world biodiversity. Five environments are found here:
humid forest, dry forest, scrubland, savanna and mangrove swamp. In the New Caledonia greenhouse, 76% of the plant species are endemic. The route finishes with the history of plants greenhouse where you discover modern representations of plant groups that existed in the past, fossil pieces and  reconstructions of extinct plants. Nearly 430 million years of the evolution of plant life are therefore traced here. Via www.mnhn.fr.

To see more of the exhibition at the Jardin des Plantes via MNHN gallery photo slideshow
There is also a video related to the opening on Vimeo

Photos, courtesy of Getty and MNHN

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