Reichenbach's orchids. Hidden treasure at the NHM

14. February 2014 - 21. April 2014


The heart of this fascinating exhibition is the treasured orchid collection bequeathed to the Natural History Museum by the German botanist Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach in 1889. Reichenbach was the leading orchid expert of his time; he had great numbers of orchids shipped to him in order to study and classify them – especially from South America and Asia. His legacy includes over 70,000 orchid documentations. However, he also specified in his will that these treasures must remain locked and untouched for 25 years.


Exactly 100 years ago it was finally possible for the first time to have access to the collection. In honor of this centenary, the Botany Department and the Historical Science Archives of the Natural History Museum will present a small collection of these documented herbarium specimens and illustrations. In addition, photographs of Austrian orchids will be displayed and, naturally, live orchid displays will enhance the exhibition as well.