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The John Rylands Library: Botany Special Collection

Looking at historical archives I booked a research visit to the Special Collection at the John Rylands library in Manchester. This visit would provide me with historical art-science based knowledge by looking into how Botany is visually represented within Materia Medica's (special collections, 2023). Botany is a type of biology that focuses on plants. Biologists / Art-Scientist who study Botany are known as Botanists. Botany is an important branch of science that researches plant classification, properties and cell structure. The research carried out by Botanists often helps the environment such as within climate control (What is Botany, 2021).

Image 01: Image of myself at the Special Collection.

Below is the list of research materials I looked at: R211674 The Complete Herbal by Nicholas Culpeper (1953) R161632 The Illustrated Herbal by Wilfrid Blunt (1994) 210513 Herbals & Closely Related medico-botanical works Compiled by Sally Haines Hocker (1985) 17783 A New family herbal by Robert John Thornton (1810) 820.9 K191 - R210713 Of Books and Botany Leah Night by (2009) R211549 Jacob Bigelow's American medical botany (2012)

Image 02: Image of the John Rylands Library.

Image 03: R211549 Jacob Bigelow's American medical botany, 2012  (special collections, 2023).

A floral decorative covered book that is about the transition of how botany has evolved over the centuries. The book talks about the transition of colour illustrations and how print production has evolved.

Image 04: R211674 The Complete Herbal by Nicholas Culpeper, 1953 (special collections, 2023). A beautiful book that consisted of several pages of detailed small plant illustrations. I really enjoyed browsing through this book looking at the visual content.

This was a very interesting visit, and I found it incredibly useful to view the materials to help me understand further how necessary art is within science. This helps me strengthen the connection with my own discipline: art-science. Understanding that Botany is an important branch of science is a key message that I want to share as part of my Visualising the Unseen project.


Special collections (2023) Special Collections (The University of Manchester Library). Available at: (Accessed: April 27, 2023).

What is a herbarium? (2023) HerbWeb - What is a Herbarium. Available at: (Accessed: April 27, 2023).

What is Botany? (2021) | Take Online Courses. Earn College Credit. Research Schools, Degrees & Careers. Available at: (Accessed: April 27, 2023).

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