GLENCOE, Ill. (May 30, 2013) – Stunning illustrations and print engravings of butterflies are on display in the Lenhardt Library now through August 18 in the Butterflies in Print: Lepidoptera Defined exhibition. The images are found between the pages of the Garden’s rare English, French, and Latin entomology volumes, some of which are over 300 years old. Stacy Stoldt, Library Public Services Manager, will give a free library talk on the exhibition at 2 pm on Sunday, June 23.
The largest sized text in the collection, Metamorphosis of Surinam Insects (graciously on loan from the Owen H. Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine at the University of Minnesota), was authored by 17th century German scientist Maria Sibylla Merian, who is considered to be the founder of German entomology. Merian is most famous for discovering that adult Lepidoptera lay eggs, disproving the previously-popular theory that caterpillars developed by way of spontaneous generation. Merian was also an accomplished artist and naturalist, and produced many beautiful watercolor paintings of flowers and insects, embroidery patterns, and copper engravings in her lifetime. Her spectacular artistic ability is featured in Metamorphosis of Surinam Insects. To this date, nine species of butterflies, six plants, and two beetles have been named for her.
Contemporary books on Lepidoptera are available for borrowing in the Lenhardt Library. Butterflies in Print: Lepidoptera Defined occurs in conjunction with the Butterflies & Blooms exhibition. There, visitors can immerse themselves in a habitat with hundreds of live butterflies to observe their behavior and beauty first-hand.
Partial funding for Butterflies in Print is provided by the Harriet Kay and Harold R. Burnstein fund for exhibits. The Lenhardt Library is located in the Regenstein Center. Visit https://www.chicagobotanic.org/library/exhibits for more information.