Exhibition “Orchids: Hidden Stories of Groundbreaking Women”


Smithsonian Gardens and the U.S. Botanic Garden will open the 26th annual orchid exhibition January 29. "Orchids: Hidden Stories of Groundbreaking Women" will be on display in the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery through April 24. The exhibition unearths stories of women who have enriched the understanding and appreciation of orchids.

"This is such a special exhibition because it amplifies the artistic and scientific contributions of women to the world of orchids," said Joy Columbus, director of Smithsonian Gardens. "The amazing orchid collections of Smithsonian Gardens and U.S. Botanic Garden are critically important in telling these important stories and supporting biodiversity in face of a changing climate."

Women have been instrumental in shaping orchid collections throughout history. Despite their remarkable achievements in art, botanical illustration, orchid cultivation and scientific discovery, many of these women have not received the recognition they deserve. 

The exhibit draws on the living collections of Smithsonian Gardens and the U.S. Botanic Garden and will feature several hundred varieties of orchids alongside stories of women's history.

"We are happy to continue our strong collaboration with Smithsonian Gardens to champion orchid conservation, education and exhibition," said Saharah Moon Chapotin, executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden. "We are honored to share our diverse orchid collection for this exhibit celebrating women's contributions in orchids and horticulture, and we hope to inspire future generations to continue this legacy of groundbreaking work."

Smithsonian museums are open on a modified schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic; check si.edu/visit for current hours and admission information. Visitors can also engage "Orchids: Hidden Stories of Groundbreaking Women" virtually. The Smithsonian Gardens' website will feature videos about groundbreaking women, an interactive map of the exhibit space, images of the exhibit and its exquisite orchids, and fun activities to learn more about orchids.

Additional support for "Orchids: Hidden Stories of Groundbreaking Women" was provided by the Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative.

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