21 April – 16 October 2011
Part of the Australian season
Experience an Australian landscape in the heart of London with the fourth landscape on the Museum’s forecourt created in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Take a journey across the whole continent, from eastern Australia’s coastal habitat, through the arid red centre, to the western Australian granite outcrop featuring unique and highly endangered plants. The landscape showcases the rich biodiversity of Australia, and how these fragile systems are under threat from land usage and climate change. This is particularly important as Australia has one of the world’s greatest concentrations of geographically restricted species (known as endemics). 90% of Australian plants are only found in Australia.
One of the key plants in the landscape is the Kurrajong tree, the inner bark of which is used to make dilly bags which you can see on display in the related exhibition in Room 91. Another featured plant is Banksia integrifolia, one of around 80 species named after Sir Joseph Banks, who from 1773 acted as unofficial director of Kew; under his supervision Kew became one of the foremost botanical gardens in the world. Banks was the natural historian on the Endeavour during James Cook’s first voyage of discovery to Australia and New Zealand 1769–1771, and he brought back many new species to both the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Swathes of strongly coloured Brachyscome iberidifolia (Swan river daisies) and Rhodanthe (Everlastings) add colour throughout the landscape, and approximately 12 star plants are highlighted to show the connections with the Museum’s collection, Kew’s work in Australia and links between the British Museum, Kew and global communities.
For more information about the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, visit www.kew.org
Banksia marginata. Photo: Andrew McRobb, Tasmania 2005. © Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.