Exhibition: Handle with Care

Exhibition / Festival

RHS Lindley Library

RHS Lindley Library


80 Vincent Square


RHS Lindley Library, London


  • Member

    Free admission

  • Non-member

    Free admission

  • Free admission


  • Event times

    Mon–Fri; 10am–5pm

  • Subject

    Exhibition / Festival

  • Topic


The library collections of the RHS were founded in 1806, beginning with a donation of just five volumes and a desire to create a resource for members to further their knowledge of every aspect of horticulture. In the two centuries that have followed, many unique and valuable items have been entrusted to our care. From rare sixteenth-century herbals to the personal notebooks of plant collectors and garden designers, RHS libraries now hold a range of diverse materials that need to be preserved for future generations of gardeners and historians alike.
This exhibition at the RHS Lindley Library describes how we protect and conserve our collections, exploring some of the challenges we face and the approaches that can be used to overcome them. The displays will look at the different types of material in our library collections and will provide the opportunity to showcase recently conserved items.
In 2016 the library began a campaign to raise funds to continue essential conservation work on a selection of manuscripts, journals and correspondence authored by and belonging to 19th century plant collectors under the sponsorship of the Royal Horticultural Society. A fantastic response from the public has enabled the completion of the work and we are delighted in this exhibition to be able to show the newly conserved letters of the 19th century plant collector Karl Theodore Hartweg who travelled across Mexico and South America collecting specimens and seeds to return to the society for research and propagation. The display will also feature items from the Special Collections that we will be conserving as part of our ongoing work to protect the treasures of the RHS Lindley Library.

Image: ‘Camellia Japonica’ watercolour from Plantae Icones Japonicae, 19th century 

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.