An illustration of yellow-tipped, fan-shaped orange peacock flowers.

Black Botany: The Nature of Black Experience


This exhibit seeks to acknowledge and reconsider the complex relationship between enslaved Black people, nature, and the colonial environment. The exhibit will focus on five plants—cotton, the peacock flower, rice, the peanut, and the vanilla orchid. These plants offer a unique lens through which to explore the documentary record about the varied roles Black people played in the innovation and impact of these plants.

The exhibit features several works from the LuEsther T. Mertz Library and Archival Collections of The New York Botanical Garden, along with plant specimens from the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium. The exhibit was curated by Rashad Bell, MLIS, Collection Maintenance Associate at the Mertz Library, and Nuala Caomhánach, the current Humanities Institute Andrew W. Mellon Fellow and Ph.D. candidate at New York University.

Learn more about the materials on display with this exhibition guide.