(ST. LOUIS) The Institute of Museum and Library Services, or IMLS, awarded the Missouri Botanical Garden two grants to enhance its science programs. One grant will help expand the Garden’s Seed Bank and the other will be used for an entomology lab at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House in Chesterfield.
Institutions across the country submitted 345 applications for IMLS grants through the Museums for America program. After a stringent peer-review process, IMLS selected 109 projects to receive more than $19 million in funding.
The Seed Bank, located at Shaw Nature Receive, will use the $215,193 grant to purchase additional equipment for its facility, including an x-ray machine and germination incubators. Seed banking is an essential conservation tool that enables long-term storage of genetic diversity for large numbers of plant species.
“We are pleased to have received this support from IMLS to greatly enhance the curation of our Seed Bank collection,” Seed Bank Manager Meg Engelhardt said. “The Garden’s ambitious seed banking program has made significant developments over the years and this project will ensure the best curation of these important collections.”
The Garden established its Seed Bank in 2012, aiming to collect and store seeds of threatened and native species in support of the research, conservation, and horticultural missions of the Garden. At present, the Seed Bank houses more than 2,400 collections representing 1,152 species, 196 of which are globally rare or threatened with extinction. Special efforts have also been made to conserve samples of Missouri’s native flora.
In addition to equipment, the grant will provide funding that will allow staff to assess baseline seed quality through non-destructive inspection of seeds and monitor seed collection viability through germination tests to ensure collection longevity and sustainability. The seed bank collections serve a wide audience, enabling educational displays of rare plants at the Garden, as well as sharing of data with the greater plant conservation science community.
The Butterfly House in Chesterfield will use their $202,220 grant to help create a new entomology lab that will serve as a functional place for staff and volunteers to properly care for their invertebrate animal collection while providing guests an interactive exhibit experience. The exhibit will promote learning experiences focused on the butterfly life cycle, invertebrate animal conservation, and the field of entomology.
“We are so excited for this grant because it makes our dreams of expanding the work space for our entomologists, while also creating a dynamic exhibit for our guests, a reality,” said Butterfly House Director Jennifer Mullix. “This has been a tough year for zoos, botanical gardens, and museums, so having this support from IMLS is a wonderful boost to our mission and morale.”
The project also includes the addition of climate-controlled incubators for the butterfly chrysalides, as well as interactive components that highlight the characteristics of each display species and their region of origin. New technology will allow virtual field trips into the Butterfly House Entomology Lab and promote exploration of the field of entomology. Initial fundraising for the project began in 2018 with generous support from donors to the Butterfly House’s 20th anniversary campaign.
# # #
The Missouri Botanical Garden’s mission is “to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life.” Today, 161 years after opening, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science, conservation, education and horticultural display.
The mission of the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House is “to foster a greater understanding of plant and animal relationships in the environment in order to promote the conservation and restoration of natural habitats.” The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House of the Missouri Botanical Garden is located in St. Louis County’s Faust Park at 15193 Olive Blvd. in Chesterfield, Mo. The central feature of the attraction is an 8,000-square-foot glass conservatory where visitors mingle with more than 60 species of the world’s most beautiful butterflies in free flight.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.