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Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Selby Gardens to Showcase Photography of Rare Orchids in “The Orchid Show 2022: Capturing the Perfect Shot”



“The Year of Photography” will continue at our Downtown Sarasota campus with an exhibition that celebrates the stunning scientific photography of our own rare orchid collection.

“The Orchid Show 2022: Capturing the Perfect Shot,” presented by Better-Gro®, is built around the massive body of beautiful photos taken by a group of dedicated volunteers who help Selby Gardens scientists document the institution’s living research collection. The show will include original horticultural vignettes inspired by the art of scientific photography in the Tropical Conservatory, along with gallery installations in the Museum of Botany & The Arts. This year’s Orchid Show runs from October 15 through December 4.

“The images we will have on view capture the glorious essence of rare orchids in our collection,” said Jennifer O. Rominiecki, President & CEO of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. “This photography is critical to the documentation of our world-renowned collection for research purposes. But visitors will immediately see that these photos can stand as fine art in their own right.”

Paphinia herrerae (photo by Phil Nelson)

The “living art” for which Selby Gardens is well known will be on full display inside the Tropical Conservatory, where installations will pay homage to the practice of photography by playing with lenses and mirrors while showcasing hundreds of live orchids in artistic arrangements. Different collection specimens will be rotated into the show throughout its duration, helping to ensure a new experience with repeat visits.

Selby Gardens has the best scientifically documented collection of living orchids anywhere in the world, and this year’s Orchid Show will tell two main stories about the Gardens’ orchid research, according to Vice President for Visitor Engagement and Chief Museum Curator Dr. David Berry. The first story is the meticulous work of a group of volunteers who have systematically photographed Selby Gardens’ living collections, including its orchid collection, for many years. These talented photographers combine painstaking process, technical ingenuity, and individual aesthetic to capture the characteristics of each plant. “The photographs become another form of botanical evidence, a permanent record of something ephemeral,” said Berry. “They might document a flowering process that happens only once a year, or portray plants so tiny that they literally cannot be seen with the naked eye.”

The second story is the artistic sensibility the photographers bring to their work, capturing the strange beauty and rich diversity of a plant family that beguiles people the world over. “Compositionally, the photographs are quite stunning,” said Berry. “They aren’t only pictures of pretty plants—they are works of art.”

Brassia maculata (photo by Wade Collier)

The Museum of Botany & the Arts will showcase 15 large-format prints of the distinctive scientific photographs, which feature striking close-ups of their orchid subjects set against a jet-black background. Interpretive material will detail the photographic process and highlight six volunteer photographers who have contributed to an archive of more than 100,000 digital images of Selby Gardens’ plant collections. As a special feature of this year’s Orchid Show, a temporary photo studio will be set up in the Museum, where individual volunteers will periodically do their work in view of visitors and answer questions about it.

The exhibition will be complemented by several programs and activities, including a virtual lecture on October 26 presented by Selby Gardens botany staff and an “Orchid Evening” on November 2 that includes after-hours access to the show and a live performance by The Circus Arts Conservatory.

Access to the exhibition is included with general admission to the Downtown Sarasota campus. Admission tickets may be purchased in advance on our website here or at the Welcome Center upon arrival.

“The Orchid Show 2022: Capturing the Perfect Shot” is presented by Better-Gro. Sponsors include PNC Bank, Williams Parker Attorneys at Law, and WUSF Public Media.