Institute draws up plan to construct plant museum

Visitors to the sprawling campus of the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) at Palode, near here, will soon have the opportunity to understand the rich diversity of the plant kingdom and its utilisation by humans over the centuries.

The institute has drawn up plans to construct a plant museum providing informative displays on plants and their uses and the history and development of botanic gardens and their historic role in conservation.

The museum will feature displays on plant fossils, plants of different continents and major island groups, plants in Indian classics, the pioneer botanical works from India and the Asian region, and extinction of plants and conservation efforts.

A library of Indian timber will be another major attraction.

On Monday, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia laid the foundation stone for a multi-storey building which will have a theatre and seminar complex, interactive monitors for visitors, souvenir shop, fossil garden, gallery of botanists, and a section devoted to botanical art.

JNTBGRI Director P.G. Latha told The Hindu that work on the project was expected to begin this year or early next year.

She said the museum, the first of its kind in India, would be designed to appeal to students, researchers, conservationists, nature lovers, and the general public.

Covering an area of 10,000 sq ft, the displays in the museum will tell the story of plants from the early days of civilization to the genetically modified plants developed by scientists.

It will highlight the sacred groves in India, different kinds of fruits and seeds, endangered plants and their conservation, as well as poisonous plants, medicinal herbs and various parasites.

A section will be devoted to the flora of the Western Ghats.

The timber samples will be displayed in the shape of books.

The museum will have a display of botanical paintings covering diverse countries and cultures, with a separate section for historical paintings in India. Plant fossils collected from different regions will be arranged in the form of a fossil garden.

One hall inside the building will feature photographs of eminent Indian and foreign botanists with their biographical sketches and major contribution.

Dr. Latha said JNTBGRI would collaborate with the Hunt Institute in the US and other botanical libraries to procure portraits of acclaimed botanists.

She added that the tiered building for the museum was designed to blend with the verdant environment of the campus, home to several plant conservatories, and the biggest collection of bamboo in India.