September 21, 2019–January 5, 2020
Wicked Plants: The Exhibit is housed in a derelict Victorian-era home packed with plants that stink, burn, and even kill. These insidious vines and shrubs can hide in plain sight, but Wicked Plants uncovers their threats using a blend of history, science, and storytelling.
Visitors will delight in the interactive displays tucked into a warren of creepy rooms. Each space is brimming with rich content: Dive in by learning about deadly nightshade and other villains, then continue into a room teeming with 10 of the world’s most nefarious invasive plants.
Inspired by author Amy Stewart’s best-selling book, Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother and other Botanical Atrocities, this fun-filled, family-friendly traveling exhibit gives visitors a safe, hands-on experience with some of the world’s most diabolical botanicals. Thought-provoking and educational, Wicked Plants showcases plants associated with a myriad of health effects, including pain, addiction, obesity, allergies, cognitive impairment and even death!
Two- and three-dimensional interactives fill a Victorian-era ramshackle home, where visitors travel from room to room and learn about various poisonous plants that may be lurking in their homes and backyards. History, medicine, science, legend and lore are brought together to present a treasure trove of bloodcurdling botany that will entertain, alarm and enlighten.
The Bell Museum will include some exclusive add-ons, showcasing wicked and not-so-wicked plants as well as a hands-on botanical collage station. Features include:
- The history behind the Bell’s plant collections in the University of Minnesota Herbarium with a display of specimens, botanical illustrations and antique tools.
- A hands-on botanical collage station and a wicked plants photo op.
- Excerpts from the College of Biological Sciences Conservatory exhibit Roots to Healing, which provides a brief survey of plant-based remedies from around the globe that matter in Minnesota, from the tropical bitter melon to the native showy lady’s slipper.
- Selections of of rare books and artifacts from the University’s Wagensteen Historical Library and Andersen Horticultural Library at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
- Giant palm, fern, and lily pad leaves displayed as oversized work of art, provided by the City of St. Paul’s Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.
Other Related Events
After Hours — Sept. 25, Oct. 16, Nov. 20, and Dec. 18
We’ll also be open open late select Wednesdays from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Guests can curate their night from a host of activities, including Wicked Plants, sketching unique specimens, art activities, special planetarium offerings and stargazing (weather permitting). For a limited time, join a free plant-themed diorama tour with Bell Museum curators. Each evening features a different curator and perspective on the Bell’s famous wildlife dioramas and local plant life.
Spotlight Science: Plant Love/Hate Stories, Dec. 14
Our relationship with plants is complicated. Becky Barak (Chicago Botanic Garden) and Becky Tonietto (University of Michigan, Flint), founders of PlantLoveStories, will lead a live storytelling event featuring U of M plant scientists.
Fall Festival: Botanical Bonanza
The Bell is holding a two-day science festival themed around the fascinating world of botany, plant pathology, invasive plants, foraging and more. Delve into the good, the bad and ugly in the plant world with UMN researchers, community experts, hands-on activities and plant-based art.
The Ghostly Garden
Creep through the darkened galleries of the museum from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and find family-friendly surprises lurking behind every corner, from crafting botanical atrocities with repurposed fake plants and exploring the Dome of Doom in the Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium to visiting with carnivorous plants in Collections Cove.