National Portrait Gallery

January 27 – April 28, 2024

in the Kogod Courtyard

For centuries, orchids have brought us inspiration. Today, orchids also inspire conservation – the work to protect our environment for the future.

The beauty of an orchid goes well beyond its handsome blooms. Orchids are an interconnected and integral part of their ecosystems.

Orchid species flourish when the soil, light, and temperature are just right. Many rely on certain pollinators to carry their genes from flower to flower for reproduction. Others require the presence of a particular fungus in order to survive to adulthood and flower.

Due to their complex relationships with so many elements in their environment, it’s fair to say that when orchids thrive it’s an indication of a healthy habitat.

So how do you conserve and protect such a specialized family of plants?

Just as in nature, the key is collaboration. Here you’ll find stories of artists, researchers, curators, horticulturists, educators, policy makers, and technologists all working together to discover more about what orchids need to thrive.

Explore this exhibit to learn what people are doing to grow, research, protect, preserve, and educate others about these often ultra-specialized plants and habitats – and imagine the future of orchids.

Learn more about Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection:

Docents stationed in the exhibit 11:30am to 3:30 pm everyday

Expert is In on Wednesdays from noon to 1pm.

Presented by Smithsonian Gardens and the United States Botanic Garden

Special thanks to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery

Artwork by Phaan Howng



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