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Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

Past Exhibitions

Pretty Deadly: Poisonous Plants of Forest, Field and Garden

9 July – 21 October 1991

The Hunt Institute and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History co-curated this exhibition that was displayed in the new Natural History Gallery at the Museum in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Poison Center and Phipps Conservatory. The exhibition covered both native and cultivated species, with special attention to flowering plants and fungi native to the tri-state area. The part of each plant that is poisonous was identified, and labeling information explained its effects, ranging from minor skin irritation to serious illness or death. In addition, the centuries-old connection between botany and pharmacology was explored. Over sixty 17th- to 20th-century artworks as well as book illustrations and pressed and live specimens were displayed. A special feature was a central bouquet of poisonous plants that was changed periodically.

Available to visitors were a free reading list of books on poisonous plants, a take-home sheet listing many common poisonous plants as well as emergency phone numbers, and plant stakes to identify poisonous plants in the home and garden.