Raising the public profile of plants

A collaboration between the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney (RBG) and UNSW is connecting people to the wonder of plants through media and art.


Plants have historically been seen as a passive, static scientific resource. This view ignores the dynamic qualities of plants and limits RBG's engagement opportunities with the wider public.

"We often struggle to get people to understand why plants are important. Making them more accessible to both scientific stakeholders and the broader community, through information and education, is a strategic focus for our organisation."  

Brett Summerell, Chief Scientist & Director of Research

As part of their 'No Plants No Future' strategy, RBG wanted to explore new ways of communicating botanical life. This would require shifting the general public's perception of, and relationship with, plants.


In partnership with RBG, UNSW identified the need to create an engaging framework for promoting the value of the herbarium to the wider public. The team proposed using the philosophy of environmental aesthetics – an appreciation of the beauty of nature – to create an arts program of film, creative writing, visual art, and plant curation.

"We speak with scientists a lot, and we all understand each other's language. But this (public arts program) will help reach different audiences."  

Hannah McPherson, Collections Manager


The opportunity for more people to understand and engage with plants will not only affirm their cultural and environmental importance, but also contribute to conservation and heritage.  

"Something that I found really nice about this project was the exchange of knowledge and the connection with First Nations people, which we need to do more of."  

Hannah McPherson, Collections Manager