I’ve been to one of my favorite bakeries and decided that I prefer MY version of their cookies. I’ve been to Harvard, MIT and Boston Public Library and feel pretty educated. I realize that many people come to Boston and see the Freedom Trail, a game at Fenway or chow on lobster. But we all know I really love bakeries and museums so let’s be real.
My visit to the Harvard Museum of Natural Science was both terrific and terrible at the same time. They have a variety of exhibits but (Evolution, Language of Color, lots of taxidermy, and the crown jewel of the museum—the Glass Flowers of Blaschka).
Imagine botanical drawings from 1890s—those precise detailed full color plates we’ve all seen. But now think about them in 3D and made of glass! All the plant parts: roots, leaves, stem, flowers, cross sections of the ovary and the stamen. As I looked at the samples laid in oak and glass display cases, I imagined the work involved in creating these samples. Each leaf segment melted with foot pumped bellows, shaped and stippled, then attached to copper wire and formed into the complete shape and hand painted with ground mineral based paints. In late 1800s during the explosion of the science of natural history these two artists were quite a sensation. They were able to supply museums with displays of the natural world that were impossible to preserve until then. Their artistry and attention to detail helped people better understand our connection to the natural world. People could see the exquisite variations between plants and their specific adaptations.
I want to learn more about Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, this father and son team from Dresden who were so passionate about plants. They could not have created this body of work without a deep love of their subject. I want to understand their devotion. How can someone get so “lost” in plants? Can this single-mindedness be learned? I want to know more about their story. Were they conflicted about their work like Darwin was about the role of Natural selection vs. Creation? These men were Darwin’s contemporaries and were “stagehands” behind the big museums of the day. They were commissioned to make over 3000 samples for Cornell, Harvard and University College in London. What did they sacrifice to do this work? What were their limitations? Did they ever want to give up?
This blog is a bit reflective since I’m working on my parenting presentation for Tokyo. I’m talking about key ideas for parenting with EQ. I’ll be sharing about the kids service projects and our adventure travels. Big fun!
More next week from Tokyo!