By Sheila Wickouski

What better way to celebrate a 200th anniversary than to launch a new exhibit? The United States Botanic Garden (USBG) will kick off its year-long celebration with “The U.S. Botanic Garden at 200: Deeply Rooted, Branching Outward,” on display Feb. 20 – Oct. 15 in the Conservatory’s East and West Galleries.

Historic 3D images of the Garden can be viewed through historic 1800s stereoscope photos of the Garden. There will be programs about plant exploration through the years with botanical challenges in a set evoking a scientist’s station in an 1800s exploration ship. 

There will also be a life-size bronze sculpture of the infamous corpse flower created especially for the Garden!

Rooted in history, the vision of the Founding Fathers was for a botanic garden that would promote the importance of plants. USBG is the oldest continuously operating botanic garden in the United States. 

Executive director Saharah Moon Chapotin extends the invitation to all visitors “Whether it’s to spend a quiet moment in our beautiful conservatory and gardens, to discover the tastes and textures of new food plants, or to learn about how plants contribute to a more sustainable planet and to come away with a greater appreciation for the natural world.”

“Discover the World of Orchids” will be on display in the Conservatory Feb. 28 – May 3, in collaboration with Smithsonian Gardens. Orchids have been in the Garden’s collection since the 1800s and now form the Garden’s largest specialty plant collection. A custom rope art installation by artist Susan Beallor-Snyder will debut in the Garden Court during the orchid show.

Additional exhibits this year will continue the historic celebration theme, including a special outdoor display on the Terrace this summer, highlighting  how American garden design has changed over the course of the USBG’s 200 years. The Garden’s annual holiday show will also celebrate the Garden’s bicentennial. 

In the fall, the Friends of the U.S. Botanic Garden will host a celebratory event Oct. 13 with food, live music, and a special guest speaker to be named in coming months. 

To learn more about these exhibits and events, see historic images, find and register for programs, and plan a visit to the Garden, visit USBG.gov.

Due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 outbreak, many museums have temporarily closed. Check https://www.usbg.gov/ closures and openings. For up-to-date information on the outbreak, go to https://coronavirus.dc.gov/.

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