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Hunt Institute specializes in the history of botany and all aspects of plant science and serves the international scientific community through research and documentation. To this end, the Institute acquires and maintains authoritative collections of books, plant images, manuscripts, portraits and data files, and provides publications and other modes of information service. The Institute meets the reference needs of biologists, historians, conservationists, librarians, bibliographers and the public at large, especially those concerned with any aspect of the North American flora.

Home Page Image
[Acrocinus longimanus, long-horn beetle, on a citrus fruit], detail of a hand-colored engraving by Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717) for her Dissertatio de generatione et metamorphosibus insectorum surinamensium, ed. 3 (The Hague, Pierre Gosse, 1726, pl. 28), HI Library call no. BE10 M561d.

The Institute was dedicated in 1961 as the Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt Botanical Library, an international center for bibliographical research and service in the interests of botany and horticulture, as well as a center for the study of all aspects of the history of the plant sciences. By 1971 the Hunt Botanical Library's activities had so diversified that the name was changed to Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. Growth in collections and research projects led to the establishment of four programmatic departments: Archives, Art, Bibliography and the Library. The current collections include approximately 30,150 book and serial titles; 29,000+ portraits; 29,270 watercolors, drawings and prints; and 2,000 autograph letters and manuscripts.

The Institute's collections, holdings and staff expertise are of value not only for the study of botany and its history but also for investigations of the following topics:


  • Art history
  • Botanical art and illustration
  • History of science
  • Horticulture, botanic gardens and gardening
  • Manuscripts
  • Medicine
  • Printers and publishing
  • Rare books
  • Scientific education
  • Social and cultural commentary
  • Travel and scientific expeditions and exploration

Institute Web site organization and implementation by:

Charlotte Tancin, Site Coordinator
Frank Reynolds, Webmanager
Scarlett T. Townsend, Site Editor

Site last updated 15 January 2014.

Questions and comments about this site are welcome! Send them to:

Iris Susiana, flore maximo, ex albo nigricante. C.B.; Iris bulbosa, angustifolia coerulea. C. B. [Mourning Iris, Iris susiana L., and English Iris, Iris xiphioides J. F. Ehrh.], gouache on vellum by Georg Dionysius Ehret, 1745, HI Art accession no. 2650.

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