Photo of the facade of NYBG's Library Building

Past Events & Symposia

  1. Humanity has reached a crossroads in the effort to combat climate change and protect biodiversity. As
    Earth’s temperature rises closer to the danger limit set forth by scientists and world leaders in the
    Paris Agreement, so does the risk of a range of truly catastrophic events, including extreme weather,
    rising sea levels, and mass extinctions. How have we come so close to such a critical threshold? How
    can we stop ourselves from crossing it?

    In Threshold, three renowned scholars will discuss the implications of the climate crisis for the future
    of life on Earth. By exploring the variety of scientific, cultural and political relationships between
    humanity and biodiversity over time, these experts will address the elements needed to respond to the
    most daunting challenge in human history. Threshold will conclude with a panel discussion and
    questions from the audience on the prospects for a new environmental ethic for the 21st century.

  2. Presented by the Humanities Institute—LuEsther T. Mertz Library
    In conjunction with the exhibition Redouté to Warhol: Bunny Mellon’s Botanical Art, curated by Lucia Tomasi, Susan Fraser, and Tony Willis.

    Hosted by the Humanities Institute—LuEsther T. Mertz Library, this Colloquium is organized in conjunction with the exhibition Redouté to Warhol: Bunny Mellon’s Botanical Art, and focusses on the theme of great collectors and exceptional botanical art collections. Open to the public, this round-table will feature presentations by various experts who will each discuss, in different ways, the remarkable art of botanical collecting and some of its most famous protagonists, throughout the 20th-century and up to the present.


    Sir Peter Crane, President, Oak Spring Garden Foundation: Oak Spring as a New Research Center

    Therese O’Malley, Associate Dean, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art: Great Collectors of Botanical Art and Their Legacy

    Lugene Bruno, Curator of Art & Senior Research Scholar, Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Carnegie Mellon University: Rachel Hunt’s Botanical Art Collection as a Modern Research Center

    Elizabeth Eustis, Independent Scholar, contributing author Flora Illustrata: The David L. Andrews and Elizabeth Kals Reilley Collections in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of The New York Botanical Garden

  3. Andrea Wulf, author of one of the New York Times’ Ten Best Books for 2015, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World, kicks off our symposium celebrating the visionary naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859). Among other accomplishments, Humboldt was the first to predict human-induced climate change, and wrote narratives that influenced great minds from Goethe to Darwin. Celebrated poet Susan Stewart and distinguished ecologist Stephen Kellert join Wulf to explore the rich and wide impacts of Humboldt’s life and work.

  4. Join us at The New York Botanical Garden for an afternoon of lively discourse on landscape architecture and ecology in Mexico City, inspired by the Garden-wide exhibition, FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life. Featuring experts in environmental studies and urban planning, the roundtable is meant to create a forum for new thinking about nature and rapidly changing modern environments.

    Dr. Vera Candiani, Princeton University
    Dr. Kathryn O’Rourke, Trinity University

    Learn more about this past event. 

  5. The Humanities Institute is hosting a Winter Colloquium in collaboration with The New York Academy of Medicine. The colloquia will bring together students and teachers from a wide variety of interdisciplinary backgrounds to discuss medicinal plants and their intersection with art, culture, and science. Several NYBG botanists, researchers, and current Visiting Scholars at the Humanities Institute, will join the conversation as well as students and professors from surrounding academic institutions, including Fordham University, Columbia University, Bard Graduate Center, Montefiore Medical Center, among others.

    The colloquia will be followed by light refreshments in the Mertz Library’s Rotunda, a viewing of the exhibition Flora Illustrata: A Celebration of Botanical Masterworks, and an in-depth tour of the exhibition Wild Medicine in the Tropics in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

    The Humanities Institute hosts quarterly colloquia to engage young scholars and scientists from different interdisciplinary backgrounds to promote the discussion of environmental humanities and its influence on today’s urban living experience. Learn more about past colloquia on NYBG’s Blog, Plant Talk.

  6. Join us for the New York premiere of this award-winning documentary on Jens Jensen (1860–1951)—the Danish immigrant who rose from street sweeper to “dean of American landscape architects” and passionate environmental activist. Half a century after his death, Jensen is now hailed as an early champion of community gardens, neighborhood parks, native species, and sustainable design. After the screening, a panel explores Jensen’s work and relevance to today’s urban environmental issues.

    Support provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
    Cosponsor: Library of American Landscape History


    “A beautifully-made film about a man whose ideas for public space perfectly fit the time we live in.” —Piet Oudolf

    “A thoughtful, compelling and inspiring documentary.” —Chicago Tribune

  7. Presented by the Humanities Institute of The New York Botanical Garden in collaboration with Fordham University’s Urban Consortium

    As one of society’s most critical infrastructures, the food system must continuously evolve to meet the demands of a growing and increasingly urbanized population. Particularly in an age of unpredictable climactic change, how can we sustainably feed the cities of today and the distant future? And given the enduring inequities in food access that exist around the globe, how can we ensure that scientific and technological innovations in the food system lead to shared benefits for all? This colloquium speaks directly to these key questions, bringing together scholars and practitioners with areas of expertise that traverse plant biology, agriculture and design, and economics and consumer behavior. The conversation explores case studies in both the developed and developing world, considering the futures of food, technology, and the city—from seed to field to table.