When thinking about what goes into Living Collections, the first thing that came to mind is maintenance. Whether it is animals in a zoo, plants in a garden, or even actors in a reenactment, there is always something that needs regular attention. Plants, for example, need appropriate hydration and adequate sunlight in order to remain healthy.

Living collection specimens face several threats to their health, including vandalism and natural hazards. The image below shows one form of damage that can be caused by insects. While many insects can benefit a living collection, some pests can cause significant harm to plants. The caretakers of living collections at gardens (horticulturists, botanists, arborists and integrated pest management specialists) must be vigilant about preventing the spread of disease or damage. If not detected and treated promptly these injuries can cause irreparable deformation or loss of the specimen.

If it is a reenactment, safety of the public also has to be taken into account. This includes the rules and regulations of preparing food and hiring the actors to play the characters to worry about. The characters also need to be somewhat skilled to realistically recreate the event or time period.

Here is one example of a living history museum that I researched a bit and eventually would like to visit and explore. –

Colonial Williamsburg is a living-history museum and private foundation presenting a part of the historic district in Williamsburg, Virginia. The historic campus includes 89 original buildings and more than 500 meticulous re-creations of lost structures as well as two world-class art museums. The Foundation conducts ongoing historical, architectural, and archaeological research that underpins all exhibitions and programs in the Historic Area, in the art museums, and online. It also houses an Arboretum comprised of 18th-century tree and woody shrub varieties. The collection features 25 period species of oak trees and more than 30 historic gardens. The Arboretum is home to 20 Virginia state champion trees and two national champion trees. Check out more about Colonial Williamsburg | The World’s Largest Living History Museum here.

What is your favorite type of Living Collection?

One Thought to “Complications of Living Collections”

  1. MoHagani Magnetek

    I agree with you regarding the maintenance issues surrounding living museums, especially botanicals and zoos. I did have the fortunate experience of visiting Colonial Williamsburg in the late 2000’s. It was cool but I was not all that impressed and didn’t stay around before moving on to visiting other historical sites in the area. I don’t have a favorite living collection I can think of except for the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden on Staten Island, NY.

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