Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Friday, February 19, 2010


The living butterfly exhibit at the Am. Museum of Natural History.

Sometimes I need a place to go in winter, breathe some humid air and observe plants and wildlife, a place not more than one fare away on my Metrocard. Not the obvious destinations like botanic gardens and zoos, but the lesser known and maybe less visited finds.

I've been to two recently, one at The Rusk Institute at NYU Hospital, and the other at the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West and 81st. St.Above, an aquatic garden with fish and plants demonstrates the ecological interplay of both at Rusk.

Right, Clerodendrom in bloom in the glass house at Rusk.

Rusk is famous for it's
physical rehab program,
but they also have a hort
therapy program for
children and adults who
are patients there. Since
1958 the Enid A. Haupt
Glass House provides a
tranquil retreat for both
patients and visitors.
NYU started the first
horticultural therapy
dept. in the US in 1970 and as part of the program established an outdoor children's garden. Visitors are welcome 365 days at no charge, although to enter from the street you need to come into the hospital on the 34th St. side between First and York Aves. and pass the security guard who waves you on through to the Glass House and walled garden. Neighborhood mothers with strollers often sit on the benches to meet and greet their friends. Songs from caged finches bred in captivity and pairs of lovebirds add a charming note.
At the Natural History Museum, the butterfly exhibit (with tropical plants) is on display through May 31, 2010. There's a fee in addition to the general museum admission. I was hoping to sit on a bench, watch kids watching the butterflies sipping nectar from flowers and fruits, but alas, no benches in this smallish space; keep moving through the exhibit, so not too much tranquility here. Butterflies alight seemingly at random on hair and clothing of visitors. There's great hilarity when one perches on the seat of some nicely worn jeans, giving new meaning to the word butt-erfly.


Shady Gardener said...

I LOVE botanical gardens. They have perfect conditions for the flora and fauna I cannot grow. What a wonderful time you had. :-) Have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

Adele B. has asked me to post her comment, and I immodestly do so below.

Bravo, Ellen! Adele B.

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