The Future of Orchids

The new orchid exhibit, The Future of Orchids: Conservation and Collaboration, is fascinating and a wonderful antidote to the winter gloom. With 350 orchid plants in the exhibit, the scale and variety is amazing.

©Miki Jourdan
©Angela N.
©Miki Jourdan
©Angela N.
©Miki Jourdan
©Victoria Pickering

The art

This exhibit is a collaboration of the U.S. Botanic Gardens, the Smithsonian Gardens, and artist Phaan Howng. Howng’s large-scale botanic sculptures sit in and among the orchids.

Artist Phaan Howng. ©Victoria Pickering
©Victoria Pickering
©Angela N.
©Angela N.
©Angela N.
©Angela N.

The building

The show is in the Kogod Courtyard of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which offers a soaring space and the wonderful glass ceiling for the exhibit.

©Angela N.
©Angela N.
©Victoria Pickering

More orchids

The orchids are so fantastic that we can’t resist showing more of them:

©Miki Jourdan
©Miki Jourdan
©Angela N.
©Miki Jourdan
©Miki Jourdan
©Victoria Pickering
©Miki Jourdan
©Angela N.
©Victoria Pickering
©Miki Jourdan
©Miki Jourdan
©Victoria Pickering

The show is free and open through April 28th. In addition to the beauty, there is so much to learn at the exhibit. Read the Smithsonian article about the work scanning the orchids to document what they are like at this point in time. And as the Botanic Garden writes “The exhibition will explore the numerous challenges facing wild orchids today, including climate change, habitat destruction and over-collecting, and offer a glimpse into the work being performed today by a diverse group of scientists and conservationists to protect the future of orchids.”

Join the Conversation

4 Comments

  1. My Australian-born, floral expert mother managed the American east coast orchid growers association in the late 1940s. We always had orchids in our house when I was growing up and I’ve tried to keep up the tradition on a smaller scale over the years in my own home. The annual orchid show put on by the Smithsonian and the Botanic Garden in Washington has always been a wonderful relief from the winter weather and political feuds. Your exceptional photographs not only capture the beautiful flowers at the 2024 exhibit but also the very interesting art. Thank you for all you do to help people discover what is worth seeing in this city other than the White House and Congress.

    1. That’s so interesting about your mother – must have been really hard in the days before cloning orchids became possible. When we first moved to D.C., I sought out the nursery at Kensington Orchids, but could only afford to buy a couple of them. So odd to see orchids now sold in grocery stores, almost as disposable plants – much more interesting to patiently wait for them to bloom.

    1. Both the U.S. Botanic Garden and the Smithsonian Gardens sometimes run events – both online or in person – with advice on growing orchids, so maybe that’s a helpful source. But getting orchids to bloom again is definitely a challenge.

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