Thursday, March 29, 2007

New England's largest indoor botanical center opens in Providence

New England's largest indoor botanical center opens in Providence

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island -- New England's largest indoor public display garden has opened here in a historic park, and officials expect it to become a regional center for learning about plants as well as a top attraction for visitors.
The glass-walled Roger Williams Park Botanical Center, which opened March 2, offers a tropical garden, an orchid garden, and a Mediterranean room with a collection of citrus trees. Fountains and ponds dot the landscape.
But its real draw on a day when cold rain was flooding the streets of Providence was the lush green and warm interior, filled with fragrant and unusual plants.
"It's plush. It's beautiful," said Susan Ainsworth, a retired school teacher. "It's lovely to be in here on this otherwise dreary day."
Her friend, Karen Asher, the president of the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society, described herself as "plant-obsessed."

"It's fun to see all these tropical plants," Asher said. "It's like this little fantasy land in here. You could pretend you're in Hawaii."
The center has 12,000 square feet (1,115 square meters) of space and rotating horticultural displays. The plants are in two glass structures connected by an enclosed hallway. The collection includes 40-year-old cacti, a fragrant jasmine plant and a bog that contains carnivorous plants, such as pitcher plants, some with 6-inch long "pitchers" to trap prey.
"There is one so big that it can trap and consume a rat," said Jo-Ann Bouley, educational program manager at the center.

Roger Williams Park, named for the city's 17th-century founder, also has a zoo and a carousel on its 430 acres (174 hectares). The landscaped Victorian-era park already attracts more than 2 million visitors a year, and Providence Mayor David Cicilline said in a statement that he expects the new botanical center will become a destination on its own and "attract visitors to Providence from throughout the Northeast."
The botanical center also has two classrooms and will offer gardening and composting classes provided by the University of Rhode Island.

The project cost $7.7 million to build, and was funded by state, federal and city government, as well as a $1 million grant from the Champlin Foundations. Keith Lang, executive director of the independent foundation, said it adds to the green space at the park and bolsters its educational offerings.
"I think the thing that really attracted us was the educational component," he said. "This was an aesthetically pleasant place to be. But at the same time, it was going to involve a lot of people in getting to know the environment."
Allison Barrett, a science teacher in Providence, came with her 5-year-old grandson Wilson Jensen. "I was thinking next fall, I'd bring my students," she said.
An educator and artist, Raffini (who goes by just one name), said she also planned to bring her students here as they learn about plants and launch a project to plant a garden they can use to grow their own food. But she said she also wants to come on her own.
"I'm loving it. I'm loving all the tropical plants," she said. "We can come here and chill out." (AP)
March 29, 2007

Roger Williams Park Botanical Center

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

‘North By Northeast’ Exhibit Delivers 500 Years Of New England Maps

Deerfield, Mass.:Historic Deerfield will kick off its 55th season with its first exhibition to focus on maps, titled "North by Northeast: Five Centuries of New England Maps," opening Saturday, March 31. Visitors will gain access to a world-class collection of antique maps and mapmaking equipment spanning the period 1540 to 1918, including 19 important maps on loan from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The show will be on view in the Flynt Center of Early New England Life to August 12.

"Every map tells a story," said David Bosse, Historic Deerfield's librarian and guest curator of the exhibition. "A goal of the exhibition is to provide greater awareness of the biases and perspectives found in most maps, since they are always a product of their time — embodying the political, cultural and economic views of their makers."

The name "New England" was first applied to the region by Captain John Smith in his cornerstone map originally published in A Description of New England (London, 1616). While Smith's may be the most significant map in the exhibition, other cartographic highlights include the so-called "beaver map" by Herman Moll (London, 1735), a rare American map of the seat of war near Boston published during the American Revolution and a unique proof copy of Edward Hitchcock's 1834 geological map of Massachusetts — the first published for any American state.
In addition to approximately 50 printed and manuscript maps, "North by Northeast" will also offer portraits, surveyors' compasses, globes, reverse paintings on glass, powder horns, landscape views, printed diagrams and an orrery — a mechanical device used to illustrate the orbit of the earth and the moon.

"The exhibition is organized around eight themes, including mapmaking and map production," said Bosse. "This allows us to include some very interesting objects in addition to the maps themselves. The other themes include defining New England; geographical literacy and learning; the politics of cartography; thematic and special purpose maps; the manmade landscape; cartography and conflict; and the elements of style: design and iconography."
"The exhibition provides the opportunity to focus programs on maps and mapmaking," said Amanda Rivera Lopez, director of museum education at Historic Deerfield. "On weekends in April and during school vacation week, families will discover hands-on activities related to the use and creation of maps."

"North by Northeast" draws on the cartographic collections of several institutions. These include the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Amherst College Archives & Special Collections, Connecticut Historical Society Library, Harvard Map Collection of Harvard University, Mount Holyoke College Archives & Special Collections, the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at Boston Public Library, the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association Library, Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith College, the Hatfield Historical Society, private collections and Historic Deerfield.
For information, 413-775-7214 or .