Exhibit XLI

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1 May - 31 October 2014

Dedicated to Diane Nelson, our dear friend, artist extraordinaire, and fellow muse

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Muse III

     Museums have been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember.

My early grasp of the world’s most important plants came not from my formal botanical studies as an undergraduate and, later, graduate student, but as a grade school student, awed for hours at a time by the magnificent dioramas of mammals and other large animals of the world located in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

For much of my formative period, any number of natural history subjects, as well as archeological findings, particularly of the Egyptian and Minoan civilizations in the Old World, and the Maya and Inca civilizations in the New World, attracted me to any museum housing such subjects within a day’s ride to and from them on whatever form of public transportation might have been available to me at the time.

"Acrobat" by Robert Nussbaum. Desert House, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri. 3 April 1975 © Charles Albert Huckins

     It was not until my undergraduate years in Providence, Rhode Island, however, with the treasures of the Rhode Island School of Design nearby, that I became enamored of art for art’s sake. In particular, I have Richard Bruce Carpenter, then Assistant Professor of Art at Brown University to thank for learning to appreciate fine art, particularly that of the Renaissance and Baroque Periods, first-hand and unfiltered by the opinions of others. At the same time, and equally important to me for a more finely honed appreciation of the art and architecture of classical civilizations, were the enthusiastic and insightful teachings of Charles Alexander Robinson, Jr., then the David Benedict Professor of Classics at Brown University.

Even though the principal course of my formal education up through graduate school and my subsequent gainful employment remained in the natural science vein, my love and appreciation of art continued to burn brightly and, in my retiring years, art museums have been the principal object of my interest to this day.

Having directed the Desert Botanical Garden through its first accreditation as a museum back in the early 1980’s, I clearly maintain a broad interpretation of what a museum is and what might justifiably constitute a muse. My philosophy will probably become more apparent to viewers of this and other exhibits on this web site. Whatever one’s concept of a museum or a muse might be, it is hoped that the viewer will be inspired to muse a bit here, however vicariously, before continuing along life’s more pressing lanes.  

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