Historically, female botanists and botanical artists were rarely given as much credit as their male counterparts. Botanical art was often viewed as a pleasant pastime for women who had time on their hands whilst their husbands were at work, and the contribution that these women made to the advancement of scientific illustration was often undermined.
To highlight the importance of these historically, scientifically and socially significant collections, Kew’s Library, Art and Archives department, in collaboration with the Oak Spring Garden Foundation, is in the process of digitising its out of copyright work by women artists, spanning several centuries.
Kew holds over 200,000 prints and drawings, and this working resource is available to staff and visitors to the department, often providing a reference tool against preserved herbarium specimens. The ultimate aim of this collaborative effort is to ensure that high quality images of illustrations and their associated data is safely stored in digital format for future generations.