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“The 45th Anniversary Orchid Show: Women Breaking the Glasshouse Ceiling” presented by Better-Gro® will focus on females in Selby Gardens’ history

SARASOTA, FL – August 25, 2020 – This year marks the 45th anniversary of the official opening of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Selby Gardens). To help celebrate that milestone, Selby Gardens’ annual orchid show will honor the Gardens’ founder, Marie Selby, and spotlight the accomplishments of many notable women who have built on her legacy and helped make Selby Gardens home to the best scientifically-documented collection of orchids in the world.

As the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of air plants (epiphytes), Selby Gardens hosts an orchid show each fall at its Downtown Sarasota campus. Taking place October 10 to November 29, 2020, The 45th Anniversary Orchid Show: Women Breaking the Glasshouse Ceiling presented by Better-Gro®, will combine a spectacular display of living orchids in the Tropical Conservatory with an impressive exhibition of orchid-related treasures from Selby Gardens’ collections in the Museum of Botany & the Arts.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the women who have made our organization possible,” says Jennifer Rominiecki, president & CEO at Selby Gardens. “Not only does it give us the opportunity to highlight our founder Marie Selby and icon Bertha Palmer, but it gives us a fitting platform to share the stories of the women scientists who have made invaluable contributions to Selby Gardens and to the scientific study and conservation of plants worldwide.”

The 45th Anniversary Orchid Show coincides with the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. The Tropical Conservatory will celebrate the Suffrage Movement and showcase orchids in the symbolic colors of the Suffragettes—purple for loyalty and dignity, white for purity, green for hope, and gold for light and life. The experience will be enlivened by kinetic planters that set the orchids in jubilant motion. Architectural motifs from the 1920s and period music will provide additional depth to the exhibit and transport our visitors to this pivotal era in American history.

In the north gallery of the Museum of Botany & the Arts, rare books and prints showcasing the work of some of the finest female botanical artists to have ever captured the beauty of orchids will be on view. The historical role of women as botanical illustrators and colorists will be explored, as well as the process by which botanical prints were traditionally produced.

“Botanical illustration was an entry point for females to go into science in the Victorian era,” says Jeannie Perales, vice president for museum exhibits, learning, and engagement at Selby Gardens and curator of the Orchid Show along with co-curator David Berry. “And they paved the way for female explorers to eventually go out into the field.”

The museum’s south gallery will highlight the numerous contributions of women to botanical science, including the work of many female staff and volunteers at Selby Gardens who have contributed to the understanding and appreciation of orchids and other epiphytic plants. “This show is a way to give a voice to those who haven’t traditionally had much of one in the field of science,” says Perales. “It’s one way to call attention to women in science, what their role is in it, and why they have been so underrepresented.”

The show will also include a stunning display of orchids and roses at the Selby House to mark the 100th anniversary of the Selbys’ purchase of the property on which the gardens now stand. The rose was one of Marie Selby’s favorite flowers and also a symbol of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

An additional orchid display will be on view at Selby Gardens’ companion campus at Historic Spanish Point. That display will connect to Bertha Palmer, the Chicago philanthropist and entrepreneur who established a winter estate at Spanish Point in 1910. Through her work as chairman of the Board of Lady Managers at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, Bertha Palmer made significant contributions to the cause of women’s rights.

Programs related to the exhibition will be virtual and include the following:

Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Noon to 1 p.m.
Keynote Botanical Briefing: The Orchid Show – Women Breaking the Glasshouse Ceiling

Join us for a conversation about the women behind Selby Gardens’ world-class botanical collections moderated by the Orchid Show’s curator, Jeannie Perales, vice president for museum exhibitions, learning and engagement.  Jeannie will be talking with botanists Dr. Sally Chambers and Elizabeth Gandy about their paths into the field, the plants they work with, and the role they play in preserving and studying life on the planet.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Noon to 1 p.m.
Historical Briefing: The Orchid Show – Bertha Palmer’s Love of Gardens with John McCarthy, Vice President for Historic Spanish Point

Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Noon to 1 p.m.
Botanical Briefing: Orchid Show:  The Orchid Show – A Brief History of Botanical Art with Olivia Braida

The 45th Anniversary Orchid Show: Women Breaking the Glasshouse Ceiling is presented by Better-Gro®. Major sponsors include The State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen; and is paid for in part by Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax Revenue.  Supporting sponsors include Travis and Kathy Brown, Jean Weidner Goldstein, Teri A Hansen, Marcy and Michael Klein, Katherine and Frank Martucci, Cornelia and J. Richard Matson, Drs. Joel Morganroth and Gail Morrison Morganroth, and Pauline Wamsler.

For more information, please contact Lynn Bates at or 941.366.5731 Ext. 225.