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Botany in 18th century Cambridge: A first look inside the Martyn Collection

4:00pm-5:00pm on Wednesday 31 March

Times shown are in GMT (UTC +0) up to the 27th March. For events on or after 28th March times are in BST (UTC +1).

Join Dr Edwin Rose and Dr Lauren Gardiner for a talk and a first viewing of some of the treasures in the Martyn collections held in Cambridge University Library and Cambridge University Herbarium, exploring the practice of botany in 18th century Cambridge through these previously poorly studied but important materials. The University Herbarium is today better known for its 19th and 20th century collections and contributors (such as those made by Charles Darwin), and its earlier materials have received very little attention until now.

Originally established in 1724, the Botany Professorship in Cambridge gained a truly institutionalised seat with the foundation of both the University Herbarium and the University Botanic Garden in 1762, on what is now the New Museums Site. The incumbent Professor, Thomas Martyn (1735–1825) designed a garden based on the new Linnaean system of classification, at the cutting edge of botanical research for the period, and assembled a global collection of books and plant specimens. These collections included many of those belonging to his father, John Martyn, the previous Professor of Botany. Many of Martyn’s books survive and contain annotations relating to specimens in his ‘hortus siccus’collection of dried plants in addition to those he and a series of curators attempted to cultivate in the Botanic Garden. These represent species collected on a truly global scale, from the walls of the colleges of Cambridge through to species collected on the first European voyages to the South Pacific.

An understanding of the working practices used by Martyn and his curators to compile and organise this global collection will shed light on how Cambridge interacted with the rapid development of natural history in an age of exploration, commerce and revolution. Find out more and have a rare chance to see some of these original collections as we start to unlock their secrets.

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Additional Information

Age: Adults, Young Adults 12 – 18
Timing: Available on Demand, Live Stream
Cost: Free
Event Capacity: (Online, unlimited)
Theme: Explore, Environment, Society
Accessibility: Closed Captions
Image copyright: Cambridge University Library

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