The Botany Libraries host a robust exhibit program. Online exhibits are designed to enhance Harvard courses as well as illuminate aspects of our department's history.
The Botany Libraries staff also work in conjunction with our faculty and HUH staff members to create a series of in-house exhibits that highlight a wide range of botanically inspired topics. Past exhibits have showcased everything from current research to botanical motifs in early 20th century glassware.
Current Exhibit: Curare and Arrow Poisons
Accounts of arrow poisons used in the Americas date back to the early 16th century. These early reports, mostly from the Caribbean, can now be traced back to concoctions based on the fruits and latex of Hippomane mancinella L. (Euphorbiaceae), and several animal components (e.g., snake teeth, ant and scorpion parts). This preparation from the Caribbean never received a name.
Curare, on the other hand, from the Orinoco and Amazon river basins, and a few isolated areas in South America, was not reported in the literature until late in the 16th century. It is a complex mixture of extracts from a variety of plants: what plants and what methods are involved in the preparation of curare, although based primarily on extracts from Strychnos L. (Loganiaceae) and several genera of Menispermaceae, varies from ethnic group to ethnic group, and from region to region.
This exhibit showcases some arrow poison artifacts in the Economic Botany Collection as well as in the personal collection of Keeper of the Oakes Ames Orchid Herbarium Gustavo A. Romero.
Contact the library with any questions about our in-house or online exhibit programs.