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I G-9.1

Arnold Arboretum. Records of the Science in the Pleasure Ground Exhibit, 1990-1996: A Finding Aid

Archives of the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University


The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: I G-9.1
Repository: Archives of the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University
Creator: Arnold Arboretum
Title: Records of the Science in the Pleasure Ground Exhibit,
Date(s): 1990-1996
Quantity: 4.5 linear feet (5 boxes)

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

The collection was compiled from the papers and materials of the staff who worked on the exhibit. The HOLLIS # for this collection is 009138146 and the file name is ajp00021.

Processed by:

Stacy Senflug and Sheila Connor
June 1997

Conditions Governing Access:

Researchers seeking to examine archival materials are strongly encouraged to make an appointment. The Director, or an office of origin, may place restrictions on the use of some or all of its records. The extent and length of the restriction will be determined by the Director, office of origin, and the Archivist and will be enforced equally for all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use:

The copyright is held by The President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Arnold Arboretum Archives of Harvard University. The copyright on some materials in the collection may be held by the original author or the author's heirs or assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining written permission from the holder(s) of copyright and the Arnold Arboretum Archives prior to publishing any quotations or images from materials in this collection.
Photocopies may be made at the discretion of the Arnold Arboretum Archives staff. Permission to make photocopies does not constitute permission to reproduce or publish materials outside the bounds of the fair use guidelines.

Biographical / Historical

Development of the Science in the Pleasure Ground exhibit began in 1990 when a committee of Arnold Arboretum staff (Richard Schulhof, Project Director; Sheila Connor, Horticultural Research Archivist; Stephen Spongberg, Horticultural Taxonomist) began meeting with the American History Workshop (Richard Rabinowitz, Interpretive Planner ; Allen Moore, Project Designer and humanities scholars Blanche Linden-Ward, Emerson College Sam Bass Warner, Brandeis University) to work towards an exhibit that would demonstrate how cultural and natural events converge to shape the landscapes around us. Support from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities aided in the design concept, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities aided in the creation of the final exhibit. Museum Design Associates of Cambridge, MA was hired as design consultant, GPI Models of Boston was engaged to construct the scale model, and WB Incorporated was hired for fabrication and installation. In April 1996 Richard Schulhof left the Arnold Arboretum to become director of Descanso Gardens in California. Sheila Connor, Arboretum Horticultural Archivist, assumed responsibilities as project director. Together with Chris Strand, Outreach Horticulturist, and with the assistance of Stacy Senflug, Arboretum Summer Intern, Connor led the project to completion.
"You can come to the arboretum at any time of year and it's always spring," says the exhibit's curator, Sheila Connor, a lively figure who is turned on by plants and trees the way some people are by rock music."
The Gazette (Schenectady, NY) Sunday June 15, 1997.
Science in the Pleasure Ground, a permanent exhibit celebrating the Arnold Arboretum's 125th anniversary, opened October 18, 1996 in the Arboretum's Hunnewell Building. An 8-ft. x 16-ft. scale model of the Arnold Arboretum landscape provides a remarkable centerpiece. The model includes more than 4,000 miniature trees that replicate the Arboretum's living collection. Built on a 40-ft. to 1-in. scale, the strikingly realistic model employs at least 20 different shades of green acrylic paint. Vignettes of different eras in the Arboretum's history are featured. Other parts of the exhibit highlight the cultural history of the Arboretum, the design of the landscape, plant collecting expeditions, forest conservation, American horticulture, and the many uses of wood. The unique design collaboration between Charles Sprague Sargent, the Arnold Arboretum's first director, and Fredrick Law Olmsted, America's pre-eminent landscape architect (e.g. New York's Central Park) and designer of Boston's Emerald Necklace, merits a special exhibit. The "Science in the Pleasure Ground" exhibit is the culmination of a six year effort. It was developed from the book trilogy: A Reunion of Trees, by Stephen A. Spongberg, New England Natives, by Sheila Connor, and Science in the Pleasure Ground by Ida Hay. Constructed with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and a major gift from Harvard Alumni Louis and Jody Appell of York, PA, "Science in the Pleasure Ground" will provide information and inspiration to Arboretum visitors for many years to come.

Scope and Contents

The collection of exhibit materials includes correspondence from 1990-1996, design proposals and specifications, contracts and invoices, video and audio recordings included in the exhibit, extra trees and buildings for the model and negatives and slides of art work used.
Material in Box 1 Folder 0.5 covers the period of 1991-1993 when arboretum staff were working with Richard Rabinowitz, American History Workshop, to produce a permanent interpretative exhibit to occupy the exhibit hall in 1993 after the completion of the Hunnewell building renovation. Relations with American History Workshop ended in 1993 and in 1994 David Seibert, Museum Design Associates of Cambridge (MDA), was hired to finish the project.

Container List