Fragile Flora

In the mid-19th c., Bavarian glassmaker Rudolph Blaschka and his son Leopold decided that they could make sea creatures look a helluva lot more realistic formed in glass than they did dead, shriveled in formaldehyde inside glass jars.

Frustrated that dead flowers, like squids, don’t exactly look the same as they did alive after a couple days, Professor George L. Goodale, the first director of Harvard’s Botanical Museum, figured that glass models would work as well for flora as they did for the sea’s fauna.

So, in 1886, Goodale popped to Dresden to convince the Blaschkas to switch their focus and whip out 3,000 glass flowers for Harvard’s botany students.

By 1890, the father and son were under full contract. They worked to complete it until 1936 (Leopold finished after his dad died in 1895, when nearly three-quarters of the collection had been finished).

They’re on permanent display in the Ware Collection at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

(Many thanks to Dr. Hypercube for the hyperlinks that led me here)

26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, Mass

(All photos by Hillel Burger for the Corning Museum of Glass of specimen's from Harvard's collection)


  1. Author says:

    These are amazing to see in person. Even up close they appear to be real. Definitely worth the visit to Harvard's Museum of Natural History. Old school museum at its best.

  2. During summer 2000 in Avignon (France), i have seen some of these jewels during an exhibition. It was absolutly amazing, i couldn't believe...
    Thank you very much for the link !

  3. these are mindblowing (in real life), yes, def worth taking the time. sidenote/related, just found these ceramic fruits thought you might like

  4. James - I just love those! (That site is so cool...the paper accessories!)