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Plants and Gardens Portrayed, the inaugural exhibition in the William D. Rondina and Giovanni Foroni LoFaro Gallery, demonstrated the value of a beautiful exhibition space at a great botanical garden. The new gallery was a dream come true for the Garden, because it allowed librarians and curators to bring out from behind the scenes rare materials from the collections of The LuEsther T Mertz Library, one of the most important collections of botanical and garden books, prints, and art. The gallery represented a significant expansion of ongoing efforts by the Mertz Library to increase the accessibility of its collections while contributing to the Gardens research and educational missions. For the first time, treasures rarely on display were exhibited on-site for the general public in secure, climate-controlled conditions in the 1,000-square-foot gallery space designed by Stephen Saitas Designs.
The creation of the gallery opened up an important new venture for the Garden, a program of exhibitions accompanied by catalogs, related lectures, and other activities that has extended for many years. Following the inaugural overview of rarities of botanical and garden art described in this catalog, the gallery allowed the Mertz Library to present a rotating series of thematic exhibitions highlighting the remarkable depth and scope of its collections, and also enabled the Garden to host and curate exhibitions of rare materials from important collections outside the Garden.