Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Saturday, 19 April 2008 16:42 UK

Kew opens botanical art gallery

Botanical art gallery

London's Kew Gardens has opened the world's first gallery dedicated to botanical art works - some of which have never been seen by the public.

The 3m attraction is exhibiting art from the collections of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and from collector Dr Shirley Sherwood.

Kew has a vast collection of more than 200,000 art works.

Some of the illustrations of extinct species are thought to be the only surviving record.

The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens will be open to the public all year round.

Right environment

A spokeswoman for the gallery said: "Until now, although the collection has been consulted by experts and researchers, most of the works have been kept in study collections behind the scenes.

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A look at some of the rare botanical artwork featured

"The new gallery will provide the right environment and will make Kew's collections more accessible.

"With one quarter of the world's species of flowering plants threatened by extinction in the next 50 years, Kew has a vital role to play to inspire and deliver science-based plant conservation."

Dr Sherwood has been collecting contemporary botanical art since 1990. Her collection includes work by more than 200 artists living in 30 different countries.

Commenting on the opening of the gallery, she told BBC's Radio 5 Live: "There's a great renaissance in botanical art today and this is a very exciting moment."


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