Santos Museum of Economic Botany

Sometimes museums which might sound rather dull (to design aficionados such as myself) can be held in the most astonishingly beautiful buildings. Such is the case with the Santos Museum of Economic Botany at the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide, Australia which my penpal recently sent to me.
This little classical gem of a building from 1879 was just extensively and sensitively renovated. The structure wasn't built as the Greek temple it resembles but rather as the science museum it remains.
The ceiling is a good example of how the Victorians were able to meld together decorative detailing with highly detailed and rather commercial looking steel structure. I love the gilded mechanical vent. If you can't hide it -make a feature of it!
The collections themselves are just as decorative as the building - these rather amazing Victorian models of mushrooms above are entirely made of wax! I remember even as a child going to the Buhl Planetarium in Pittsburgh which at the time was the science museum (now the Children's museum of Pittsburgh) and being more interested in the beautiful building than in the exhibits themselves. Design inspiration can come from the most surprising places, no?

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