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Exploring the Wisconsin Science Festival: the Wisconsin State Herbarium

The Wisconsin Science Festival opens September 27-30 at venues across the state. To celebrate, we’re highlighting a couple of university library-related events and exhibitors with a special series called Exploring the Wisconsin Science Festival.

For a complete list of science festival programming, visit the Wisconsin Science Festival website.

Specimen scan of Shining Aster, native to Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin State Herbarium

Fans of Wisconsin’s flora will find an amazing resource in the Wisconsin State Herbarium.

This massive collection of plant specimens, botanical illustrations, and herbarium reference maps is open to the public Thursday-Saturday during the Wisconsin Science Festival.

The Wisconsin State Herbarium Museum is located in 160 Birge Hall, 430 Lincoln Drive, in Madison.

What to expect:

Visitors to the Science Festival will get a detailed look at one of the herbarium’s most important collections – the extensive holding of Arctic lichens. An exploration station will be set up at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, and the herbarium’s doors are open to visitors who wish to see more of the collection and the process of specimen curation in Birge Hall.

The Wisconsin State Herbarium was founded in 1849 and is a scientific collection of pressed, dried, labeled and classified plants and fungi. It also preserves notes, illustrations and other material about plants and maintains its own valuable herbarium library and herbarium map collection.

The collection of more than 1.1 million specimens is of regional, national and international importance and is used extensively for taxonomic and ecological research, as well as for teaching and public outreach. Approximately one-fourth of its vascular plant specimens are from Wisconsin, all of which have been databased and are searchable online. In addition, most of the world’s floras are well represented, and the holdings from certain areas such as the Upper Midwest, eastern North America, western Mexico and the Arctic (primarily lichens) are widely recognized as resources of global significance.

Read more about the Wisconsin State Herbarium.

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