For the past 25 years, The New York Botanical Garden Herbarium has been digitizing our collections and making them freely available online through the C. V. Starr Virtual Herbarium.  This incredible resource documents the world’s biodiversity and is the foundation of many different types of research projects. 

But what do you do if you’re interesting in learning more about the collections, but you don’t know where to start?  How do you find something of interest buried in a resource of 4 million objects? That’s where The Hand Lens comes in.  This resource provides interpretive information about individual specimens, collectors and uses of these data geared towards a general audience.

Why call it The Hand Lens?  For anyone who has taken an introductory botany class, the first item you usually need to buy is a hand lens.  It only costs a few dollars and it is just a simple magnifier that helps you easily see smaller plant features up close.  I never saw my botany professor without one.  Because the collection isn’t open to the public, The Hand Lens is our way of helping the public take a closer look at our specimens and hear the stories behind the collections.  

This resource is a labor of love for the entire Herbarium staff and we hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as much as we enjoy telling them.  

To get started, read more about the the Brittons, the botanists who founded the Garden.

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