Current, Upcoming Exhibitions

UCBG Florilegium logo

UCBG Florilegium Exhibition

November 18–December 1, 2022

The University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley Florilegium opens on November 18 and runs through December 1, 2022. A florilegium is a collection of illustrations featuring plants growing in a specific area such as a botanical garden. This Florilegium exhibition features twenty illustrations of plants in the collection by 18 artists, who selected their subjects from a list of iconic plants. Centuries before digital or analog photography was commonplace, people relied on detailed botanical illustrations to identify plants and flowers. The 18 participating artists are continuing this rich legacy. Through a range of media, the works on view capture the plant information from root to leaf tip, and more! Viewers will enjoy the delicate beauty of each artwork, its subject painstakingly rendered; a testament to the artists’ technical skill and love of plants.

The project was conceived by renowned botanical illustrator and instructor, Catherine Watters, and developed with the support of staff and Advisory Board members Laura Sawczuk, Gina Baretta, and Katherine Greenberg. Advisory Board Member and former Director of Collections Chris Carmichael and Curator Holly Forbes developed the list of iconic plants from the collection for inclusion in the project.

We invite the public to explore The UCBG Florilegium—where art, history and science tangibly intersect. Gallery hours: 10:00 am–4:00 pm daily, except later opening on Friday, November 18: 11:00 am–4:00 pm. Closed on Thanksgiving Day, November 24. Free with admission.

Participating artists include: Rubi Abrams, Latifat Apatira, Cindy Barber, Gina Barretta, Mary Batchelder, Hyunjin Cho, Elaine Goldstone, Elizabeth Hansell, Erika Hargesheimer, Linda Kam, Deborah Kass, Heather Kostrzewa, Lynne Lyle, Lisa Martin, Lee McCaffree, Sally Petru, Vi Strain and Catherine Watters.

This is the first in a series of several exhibitions culminating in a publication of the UCBG Florilegium that will include all works in the collection.

Watch the online slideshow to see all the artwork on view in the UCBG Florilegium exhibition.

Florilegium Slideshow

Image: Latifat Apatira, Blechnum penna-marina

Past Exhibitions

Dana Gardner art

Dana Gardner: Fauna

October 25 – 31, 2022

Fauna, is an exhibition of work by Bay Area artist Dana Gardner. Gardner’s interest in nature, and specifically birds, is informed by his childhood spent in the wooded river valleys of southeastern Minnesota. Gardner’s engaging illustrations provide a glimpse in to a variety of birds, mammals and insects within their natural habitats. Over 60 works will be on view including two richly detailed watercolor images featuring the abundant fauna of the Garden. The animal life of the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley has always been a source of interest for visitors. Created exclusively for the Garden, the watercolor illustrations are featured on puzzles and Giclée prints, available in the Garden shop. Also available for purchase in the Garden Shop is the Illustrated Guide to Common Animals of the East Bay Hills,” a beautiful pocket field guide with original illustrations by Dana Gardner. We invite visitors of all ages to enjoy the beauty and wonder of faunal life through the work of Dana Gardner. Gallery hours: 10:00 am–4:00 pm daily, except later opening on Thursday, October 27: 11:00 am–4:00 pm.

About the Artist:
Local artist Dana Gardner grew up in a small town in the wooded river valleys of Southeastern Minnesota. His time spent in this rural environment inspired his life-long fascination with nature, especially birds, and in painting and drawing. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, he was introduced to the tropics while serving in the army in the Panama Canal Zone. While in Panama, he met renowned ornithologist, Alexander Skutch, with whom he worked for the next 28 years. Following his military stint, he traveled the world, spending time in Colombia, Costa Rica and Thailand. He has illustrated over two dozen books, including guides to the birds of Costa Rica, Belize and Malaysia, to name a few. Gardner currently resides in Berkeley, California.

Artistic image of a leaf

Plants Illustrated 2022: The Beauty of Leaves Exhibition

January 14 – February 3, 2022

The University of California Botanical Garden proudly presents our 13th annual Plants Illustrated exhibition, a celebration of botanical art in partnership with the Northern California Society of Botanical Artists. View an exquisite array of botanical illustrations by local artists, featuring a diversity of plant subjects, in our online virtual gallery here.

Artistic leaf representation

Botanical Entanglements: An ecological art exhibit

March 12 – 18, 2022

Botanical Entanglements is a site-specific ecological art exhibition that explores embedded histories in plant form. With this work, artist, and ecologist Dr. Juniper Harrower is interested in the ethnobotanical histories and localized ecologies of specific plants at the botanical garden and in her Berkeley neighborhood. She asks, how have colonialism and development fractured these human-plant relationships? What are the roles that plants play in constructing our identities and how do we in turn influence their ways of living? Read the Berkeleyside article here.

Artful caterpillars photographed on a vine against a white background

The Book of Life: A Photographic Bibliography

February 8th through 22nd 

Each plant has a story to tell. Each plant is not just a bundle of striving molecules like us, but a set of ideas-made-flesh, a library in bloom. In the exhibit The Book of Life: A Photographic Bibliography, Artist-in-Residence Becky Jaffe pairs her photographs of the UC Botanical Garden with books on ecology, evolutionary biology, and ethnobotany in a visual ode to Nature’s spellbinding storytelling.

3D printed material

Plant Fiber Enclosure: Origins by Maria Paz Gutierez

May 2017

Plant Fiber Enclosure: Origins comprises a two-semester seminar where graduate architecture students have explored methods to integrate traditional and digital craft in fiber enclosures. Students first studied fabrication techniques with plant fibers originated in primitive habitats. The installation developed in the Spring semester consists of a fully natural fiber 3D printed and 3D woven six feet height structure inspired by the process of construction of a weaver bird’s nest.

Art easel with painting by foliage

Local Color: Seeing Place Through Water Color with Mimi Robinson

April 5 – April 12, 2017

Come celebrate the colors of Spring at the UC Botanical Garden. Please join us for a special installation of Mimi Robinson’s artwork documenting the unique colors of our special garden at this time of year.

photograph of a seed vessel

DISPERSAL: Seed Pod Photography by Anna Laurent

January 17 – 30, 2017 | 10 am – 4 pm

Individually, each photograph is a fine art portrait of a unique botanic specimen; as a series, it is a scientific inquiry into the diversity of botanic design. Each includes companion text about the specimen’s form & function.

Anna Laurent is an artist with a unique insight into the natural world. In her series Dispersal, she explores the myriad forms through which plants reproduce. To the uninitiated, Laurent’s close up portraits of flora and seeds could easily be mistaken for works of abstract art or images of contemporary sculpture. From samples collected as far afield as Hawaii and Kurdistan, Laurent’s work serves as a stunning reminder of the diversity, beauty and fragility of the natural world.

Two people eating during an art presentation

Contained Measures of a Kolanut

May 14, 2016

Contained Measures of a Kolanut presents an array of tables with diagrams, maps, and images, among other things, that explore the rituals and cultural histories associated with the kolanut: a bitter nut from the kola tree indigenous to tropical African rainforests that is a natural source of caffeine. Over the course of four hours Nkanga sits at one of the tables surrounded by various pictures and materials and asks participants to sit with her, while she engages them in discussion and invites them to partake in her variation of a kolanut ceremony.

David Lance Goines poster of cat amongst tall plant material

David Lance Goines

March 26 – April 7, 2016 | April 13 – 24, 2019

The UC Botanical Garden is pleased to host an exhibition of the artwork of David Lance Goines in the historic Julia Morgan Hall.  His work has been exhibited around the world from the Museum of Modern Art to the Smithsonian. He has long-standing ties to Bay Area treasure Chez Panisse, and we are thrilled to bring his work to the Garden.

Foods of the Americas Logo

Foods of the Americas

Explore our annual exhibit filled with colorful displays of foods first cultivated by ancient Mayan, Aztec, and Incan cultures. These include corn, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, squash, peppers, amaranth, quinoa and chocolate. Take an ethnobotanical tour of our Mexico, Central and South American collections, and special Crops of the World Garden and Tropical House.

Alcatraz Florilegium Logo

The Alcatraz Floreligium

January 16 – 29, 2016 | 10 am – 4 pm

The Northern California Society of Botanical Artists (NCSBA) in collaboration with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the Garden Conservancy has created a florilegium, a series of botanical paintings, to document the plants of The Gardens of Alcatraz. The UC Botanical Garden is thrilled to welcome the NCSBA to exhibit this special showing of the Alcatraz Florilegium, with over 70 drawings and paintings, in our beautiful Julia Morgan Hall.

Text and round buttons with plant images on them

Biotic Portal at Strawberry Creek

Spring 2015 – Fall 2016

In collaboration with Denise Newman & Hazel White and Chris Carmichael & Deepa Natarajan of the UC Botanical Garden, witha generous grant from the Creative Work Fund. For us, it was a chance to take poetry off the page and work with a community—to produce a substantial public poem (the index). It changed us, providing an experience, for almost two years, of poetry as a practice alive outside ourselves and wrestling with contemporary matter.

artistic painting of the Garden's Japanese Pool

Plein Air Blitz: Painting Exhibition & Demonstration

November 11, 2015

Live painting demonstrations in the Garden by members of the Glover Group, a group of dedicated plein air artists and students of the late and renowned artist Pam Glover, and a special one-day exhibition of work. Associated sale proceeds benefit the UC Botanical Garden’s education programs.

Roses in a clear vase image by Gary Bukovnik

Art Exhibition: Watercolors by Gary Bukovnik

August 25 – September 3, 2015 | 10 am – 4 pm

Bay Area watercolorist, Gary Bukovnik, has brought the artist’s eye to interpreting flowers for more than 30 years. At a time when modern American artists seem to have abandoned floral works, Bukovnik has made an illustrious career painting vibrant compositions of flowers.

Bukovnik’s work has appeared in many major art museums including the de Young, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Smithsonian, and others, Bay Area residents may recognize Bukovnik’s work from the San Francisco Symphony’s annual poster, which he has contributed to for the past 29 years.

Artist leaf image

Following in the Bartram’s Footsteps

December 15, 2014 – February 15, 2015

This major art exhibition curated by the American Society of Botanical Artists,  includes forty-four original artworks based on the native plant discoveries made by John and William Bartram in their renowned and influential travels throughout the Eastern wilderness between the 1730s and 1790s. The UC Botanical Garden will be the only West Coast showing of this exhibition.

Two people facing an art piece

Natural Discourse

July 14, 2012 – January 20, 2013

Natural Discourse: Artists, Architects, Scientists & Poets in the Garden is a collaborative project between The University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley (UCBG) and a multi-disciplinary group of artists, writers, architects and researchers who have been invited to spend time in UCBG’s extraordinary collection of plants, engage with the horticulturalists and develop new site specific work. The resulting works are as varied and multi-dimensional as the individuals who created the pieces.

Participating artists are Mary Anne Friel, Todd Gilens, Matt Suib, Nadia Hironaka, Hazel White, Denise Newman, Deborah O’Grady, Ron Real, Viginia San Fratello, Gail Wight, Nami Yamamoto, Mitch Maher, Shirley Watts, Shane Myrbeck and Jane Flint.

A person smiling and looking at a camera

Artist in Residence: Marion Brenner

March 8 – March 15, 2013

The Garden presents a selection of renowned photographer and Berkeley resident Marion Brenner as our first Artist in Residence. Ms. Brenner has created a body of work featuring the beautiful plants and landscapes of the Garden and we are pleased to display this work in a one-woman show at the Garden.

cartoon graphic of small plant shoots

Planting Comics

June 21 – July 30, 2010

A site-specific comics installation by comic artist Ozge Samanci  of twenty original comics printed on ceramic tiles.