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Margaret Mee: Portraits of Plants

Margaret Mee: Portraits of Plants presents twenty stunning paintings of Amazonian flora by the artist, explorer, and environmentalist Margaret Mee (1909–1988) in the Dumbarton Oaks Rare Book Collection. These works, acquired by Dumbarton Oaks founder Mildred Bliss in 1966 and 1967 and dating to  Mee’s first three expeditions in the Amazon, have never been displayed together.

The exhibition draws  on manuscript and print works from the Rare Book Collection to situate Mee within a tradition of women botanical artists and illustrators  that stretches back to the seventeenth century. Portraits of Plants also interrogates the enduring interplay between art and science through a variety of media (botanical illustration, watercolor, photography) extending to the present day, with works by contemporary photographer Amy Lamb, scientific illustrator Alice  Tangerini, and botanical artist Nirupa Rao.

This exhibition is curated by Yota Batsaki, Executive Director, and Anatole Tchikine, Curator of Rare Books, with assistance from Leib Celnik, Postgraduate Curatorial Fellow. 

Online Exhibit

Virtual Talks

All virtual talks will be held on Zoom. Times are Eastern Time.

Curating Portraits of Plants

October 8, 2021, 4–5 p.m. | Yota Batsaki and Anatole Tchikine

Heliconias, Evolution, and Art: A Botanist’s Perspective

October 22, 2021, 3–4 p.m. | W. John Kress

Contemporary Botanical Images: Science, History, Environment

November 12, 2021, 11 a.m.–12 p.m. | Temitayo Ogunbiyi, Nirupa Rao, and Alice Tangerini

Amy Lamb’s Photography: The Interplay of Science and Art

December 17, 2021, 3–4 p.m. | Amy Lamb


Discover family and classroom activities and lesson plans related to the exhibition for children and K–12 students.


John S. Rosenberg, “Treasure: An Amazon Artist; Botanical Bounty at Dumbarton Oaks,” Harvard Magazine, May–June 2020.

Dumbarton Oaks Museum Presents Botanical Painter Margaret Mee,” The Georgetown Dish, June 9, 2020.


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