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At one time or another, nature has served as a muse for most artists. That’s certainly the case for members of the American Society of Botanical Artists, developers of the traveling exhibition “Losing Paradise? Endangered Plants Here and Around the World.” The show, on view at the American Museum of Natural History, features 44 works of botanical art depicting threatened and extinct plant species, displayed alongside living specimens from the museum’s permanent collection. The exhibition showcases endangered vegetation from far-flung places like Mauritius and Peru, and places closer to home: In Maryland, the wood lily is considered to be “extirpated”—destroyed—due to “overcollection” by humans. The artists’ renderings of plants like the slipper orchid and the painted trillium are certainly beautiful. In the event of further extirpation, it’s hard to imagine watercolor depictions of whatever comes in their wake (barren fields? industrial waste?) holding the same aesthetic appeal.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW 10 A.M. TO 5:30 P.M. DAILY TO DEC. 12 AT THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, 1000 CONSTITUTION AVE. NW. FREE. (202) 633-1000.