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Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation


Cabinet of curiosities: Constantine J. Alexopoulos’ photographic voucher collection

13 January 2017

At the Hunt Institute we're partial to botanists, but we think mycologists are pretty cool. And we're not talking magic mushrooms either. Slime molds are rather captivating. On display through 30 June 2017 in the Cabinet of curiosities in the Hunt Institute lobby is information from our Archives collection about mycologist Constantine J. Alexopoulos (1907–1986) and his voucher collection of slime molds. We not only cover the importance of a voucher collection but also the difficulties of handling myxomycetes, and we do it with a dazzling slide show of Alexopoulos' photomicrographs of slime molds. You don't have to be a mycologist to appreciate these fascinating, transfixing images. Stop by the Institute during our normal business hours to see the slide show. For a preview, check out this short version. Whether you see blobs consuming everything in their paths or the blueprint for alien worlds, add your own soundtrack and see where your imagination takes you. Once ensnared by the beauty of myxomycetes, you'll find it difficult to break free.

The cabinet of curiosities, also known as kunstkammer (art room) or wunderkammer (wonder room), emerged in the 16th century to describe a room devoted to objects of antiquity, archaeology, art, ethnography, geology, natural history and religion. In the 20th century Rachel Hunt (1882–1963) amassed a collection of botanical materials spanning the history of botany, which went on to form the core of the Hunt Institute's collections. We have greatly expanded it over the years, many items having come from the collections of others, like Rachel, who created their own cabinets of curiosities to understand the wonders of the world. From time to time we display some of those curiosities to share the wonders of the Institute's collections.

About the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, a research division of Carnegie Mellon University, specializes in the history of botany and all aspects of plant science and serves the international scientific community through research and documentation. To this end, the Institute acquires and maintains authoritative collections of books, plant images, manuscripts, portraits and data files, and provides publications and other modes of information service. The Institute meets the reference needs of botanists, biologists, historians, conservationists, librarians, bibliographers and the public at large, especially those concerned with any aspect of the North American flora.

Media Contact:
Scarlett T. Townsend