Item of the Month

6 April 2017 marks the 215th anniversary of the University of Tartu Natural History Museum, the oldest museum in Estonia. In celebration of this occasion, each month an item is selected from the museum's collection to be presented online as a 3D model. The museum, founded in 1802 as the university's Natural History Cabinet, has developed into a modern research and education centre that also comprises the university's Botanical Gardens.

Item of the Month: November 2017

A. G. von Bunge's herbarium of plants from the provinces of Estonia, Livonia and Courland. 1849–1853.  TU268786-269236

Alexander Georg von Bunge (1803–1890), Professor of Botany and graduate of the University of Tartu, was one the most notable plant systematists of the 19th century. The herbarium pages presented here are part of the first comprehensive scientific herbarium (exsiccatum) of plants from the northern Baltic provinces, in which the specimens are properly identified and presented together with essential data concerning the place where the plants were found.

During 1849–1853, Bunge, assisted by his own students and a number of reliable amateur botanists (in total, 35 individuals), conducted a campaign to collect plants from various regions of the provinces of Estonia, Livonia and Courland. Bunge himself, working in the vicinity of Tartu and of Kärde manor, collected roughly a tenth of the thousand-plus species included in the herbarium.

Bunge's sizable contribution was almost matched by a collection of plants from the Tallinn region, assembled by Ferdinand Johann Wiedemann’s, a reputed linguist who was also a keen amateur botanist. With Flora exsiccata Liv-, Est- und Kurlands, foundation was laid for the scientific study of the plants of the northern Baltic provinces. That work, known as Bunge's herbarium, constitutes the reference base for all floristic fieldwork in our region.

The project is curated by Inge Kukk
The project is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia