Back on June 1, during the World Science Festival, the NYBG opened up their facilities to tours and I was lucky enough to attend. First was a tour of the Pfizer lab. Our tour was led by a Ph.D. candidate who had done his research on a finicky water plant (My apologies for the vague details, I shouldn’t have waited so long to write about this.). I liked the open format of the lab and how it was conducive to collaboration. Research can be an isolating pursuit (something that has deterred me from pursuing a graduate degree thus far) but I thought that working in a lab like the Pfizer lab with its big windows and open floor plan would make for a great work environment. Some photos of specimen found on lab benches:
Next was a tour of the Herbarium. Essentially it is a library of preserved plant specimens, with the majority being dried, pressed, and mounted on paper. I really enjoy the structural forms in nature so I was pleased as punch to discover that their database is becoming digitized and images of their collection exist online. As a succulent enthusiast I was happy that they had some samples from their cactus collection out for the tour:
Granted, succulents lose a little something when dried and pressed, but even seeing what they look like all dried up was interesting. The preference is for dried specimens because they can be stacked and stored in cabinets to take up less space, but they do have some preserved wet examples like the jar in the photo (they are referred to as pickles!).
These cacti are from an expedition to Puerto Rico in 1915!
There are several floors of these cabinets that house the collection.
I had always been curious about these facilities at the NYBG and I am very grateful for the opportunity to look inside!