Claire Sabel is a Junior Fellow at the Humanities Institute of The New York Botanical Garden.
The Humanities Institute at The New York Botanical Garden was launched in the spring of 2014 to support interdisciplinary research between the arts and sciences. The Institute brings scholars to the Mertz Library to research relationships between humanity and nature, landscapes, and the built environment. This summer, several Fellows joined the Institute to pursue research projects that focus on the Library’s collections, which are some of the best in the world for the history and practice of horticulture, botany, and landscape design. In this series, they explore how visiting living plant collections in the Nolen Greenhouse has informed their work.
As Humanities Fellows, we work primarily with inert objects: a printed page, handwritten letters, sketches from field notebooks, an occasional herbarium sheet. Between our various research projects, which you can read more about here, we cover centuries and continents, and almost everything we need to do so is contained within the rich collections of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library (with the occasional help of the Internet).
Part of what makes the Humanities Institute so special, however, is its position within a much larger and varied research institution and living museum. Although humanists typically make use of archives and museum repositories, the Botanical Garden has a unique set of special collections housed in the Nolen Greenhouses.