Tucked inside the Royal Botanic Gardens in Copenhagen is the Geological Museum. Our motivation for visiting was to see the exhibition Flora Danica – a display of hand-drawn and coloured botanical prints. These were showcased alongside contemporary interpretations by Danish artists.
It was a very small exhibition, which isn’t a criticism. In fact, it was compact and communicated a lot of information without inducing fatigue. The exhibition’s name comes from a Danish encyclopedia of plants published in the 18th century. There were a couple of highlights that I would like to mention.
My favourite part of the exhibition was a small display on the process from drawing to engraving. Firstly, a plant would be collected. Then it could be hand-drawn. Next came engraving this illustration into a sheet of copper that could be repeatedly utilised to reproduce the image. Beneath the thematic panel were beautiful old wooden display cases containing an array of objects that showcased this entire process. From left to right was the plant, drawing, engraving, and reproduction. It was displayed very nicely and complemented the panel text.
Another great design element was the glass case of copper plates. These plates were never published. No one knows why exactly they were excluded from the final publication. According to the text panel, the plates have been locked away for over 130 years and this is the first time they have been placed on display. Having them displayed vertically in a glass case has allowed visitors the opportunity to see both sides of the plate.
One last thing about the exhibition, although containing very little text, it was great to see a reference to medicine. Just inside the front door was a panel containing an image of Professor Ole Borch from Copenhagen University. It depicted him and his students learning about medicinal plants. The information above the image explained how Flora Danica was published for, first and foremost, medical practitioners. Therefore, every plant in the book was believed to have therapeutic value.
Overall, the exhibition was quaint – minimalistic and rustic. I recommend you combine this exhibition with a stroll through the Botanic Gardens and the Botanisk Have.