Botanical Museum

Title

Botanical Museum

Subject

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Description

The Botanical Museum, constructed in 1867 for a total cost of $5,180, was one of the original four buildings built before the first class of students arrived in the fall of the same year. Erected behind the original Durfee Conservatory, the Botanical Museum quickly became a familiar sight and frequent destination to the young men attending the newly formed Massachusetts Agricultural College.

The Botanical Museum served many purposes. Its basement was used as a storage space for pots, plants, soil, and many other materials used in the adjoined conservatory. The first floor contained a laboratory, a recitation room, and the President’s office. The second floor housed the museum where students could see glass display classes filled with plants, fruit and flower models, seed and wood specimens, and many interesting vegetable products.

One notable object in the museum preserved the history of President William Smith Clark’s famous weight lifting squash experiment. Starting during the summer of 1873 and concluding in November the same year, President Clark and his students set out to see how much weight the squash could “lift” as it grew. Using a system of pulleys, as the squash grew, more weight would be lifted. In total, the squash lifted forty-five hundred pounds as it grew. A plaster cast of this weight lifting squash was made and put on display in the museum.

Students also attended classes taught by the now famed progressive farmer and public figure, Levi Stockbridge, in the Botanical Museum. Professor Stockbridge quickly became well liked and known for his experiments in plant feeding and systems of practical crop fertilization.

The Botanical Museum was an integral part of student life throughout the history of UMass. In the early days, when the university was called the Massachusetts Agricultural College, admission and entrance exams were proctored in the museum and annual prizes for students’ collections of plants were awarded here. Later, following the construction of a separate botany building, the Botanical Museum housed the physics and mathematics departments.

Unfortunately, the Botanical Museum succumbed to damages caused by a fire that started in the original Durfee Conservatory on February 5, 1967. The museum and the conservatory were quickly engulfed in flames.

Creator

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Source

UMass Special Collections and University Archives

Publisher

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Date

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Contributor

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Rights

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Relation

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Format

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Language

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Type

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Identifier

RG150-0003213, RG150-0003214, RG150-0003216, RG150-0009697

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Original Format

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Physical Dimensions

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Files

RG150-0003213.png
RG150-0003214.png
RG150-0003216.png
RG150-0009697.png
Date Added
August 31, 2012
Collection
Orchard Hill
Item Type
Still Image
Citation
“Botanical Museum,” Lost UMass, accessed April 24, 2017, http://lostumass.omeka.net/items/show/20.