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February 7, 2013

‘The Chemist in the Garden: Origins of Natural Products’ on View at Smith College




Editor's note: To request high-res images of items on display, contact Marti Hobbes.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—“The Chemist in the Garden: Origins of Natural Products,” an exhibition showcasing botanical books from the Mortimer Rare Book Room, is on view daily, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., through May 27 in the atrium of Ford Hall, Green Street. It is free and open to the public.

The exhibit was curated by Smith College junior Signe Dahlberg-Wright in honor of Lâle Burk, who is retiring this year as a senior lecturer in the chemistry department at Smith, and it reflects Burk’s special interest in the chemistry of products derived from plants, such as essential oils and perfumes.

The books include Leonhart Fuchs’ 1549 “Histoire des plantes,” a field guide to plants with delicate hand-colored illustrations; John Gerard’s famous English “Herball” of 1636; Diderot’s monumental mid-18th-century French “Encyclopédie”; and Mark Catesby’s lavishly illustrated book on trees and shrubs of North America, published in London in 1767.

Burk studied chemistry in her native Turkey. She received advanced degrees in chemistry from Smith and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and she has been a Smith chemistry department faculty member since 1972.

“The Chemist in the Garden” is a departure for the Mortimer Rare Book Room, since these books are not on display in Neilson Library, but rather in Ford Hall, Smith’s state-of-the-art science and engineering facility. “Now students who spend more time in the laboratory than in the library can enjoy these visual treats in their own building,” said Barbara Blumenthal, rare book specialist at Smith.

For more information contact Barbara Blumenthal at (413) 585-2906.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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