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New Keeper for Kew’s Historic Herbarium

11 February 2008

Professor David MabberleyProfessor David Mabberley has been appointed as Keeper of the Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Professor Mabberley currently holds the Orin & Althea Soest Chair in Horticultural Science and is Director of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens in Seattle, USA. He will take up his appointment in March 2008.

Professor Stephen Hopper, Director of RBG Kew said, “We are fortunate indeed in securing the services of such an eminent botanist, historian and botanical art enthusiast to help steer the Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives as part of RBG Kew’s forward programme. On behalf of all staff I congratulate David on this prestigious appointment.”

Professor Mabberley is perhaps best known for his widely used The Plant-Book, providing a generic overview of the world’s flora, currently being revised for a third edition. He has authored 15 other books, including the definitive biography of Robert Brown, as well as books on skilled botanical artists including Ferdinand Bauer, Arthur Harry Church and Geraldine King Tam. He is widely published in the scientific literature, and received the Linnean Gold Medal for Botany in 2006.

Under Professor Mabberley’s management, the University of Washington Botanic Gardens was established in 2005; UWBG includes the Washington Park Arboretum, the Union Bay Gardens, the Center for Urban Horticulture, the Elisabeth C. Miller Library, the Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium, and the Union Bay Natural Area. Professor Mabberley is also Extraordinary Professor at the Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, Leiden, The Netherlands, and Adjunct Professor, University of Western Sydney, Australia. He has been President of the International Association for Plant Taxonomy since 2005.

Prior to his present post, Professor Mabberley has had a distinguished botanical career in academia, and led Greening Australia NSW, a revegetation non-governmental organisation, as Chief Executive Officer. 

Kew’s Herbarium contains over seven million specimens which are a vital resource for plant identification and research. The collection has been built up over 150 years and is now one of the most comprehensive in the world. It is used as a reference for the accurate naming of plants, scientific studies including plant biochemistry, DNA sequencing and surveys of plant diversity to assist conservation; together with studies of plant uses including use by local people for medicinal and nutritional purposes. The Library, Art and Archives are one of the premier collections of literature and visual material in the world relating to botany, including over 150,000 monographs and 200,000 prints and drawings. These important resources are used by Kew scientists and visiting researchers from around the world.

A new multi-million-pound extension is currently under construction, and due to be opened in 2009, the 250th anniversary of Kew Gardens.

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