Interpreting the Gardens

The Australian PlantBank has won two prestigious national awards for offering creative and innovative interpretation via its Innovative Interpretation and Mobile App. The App provides an opportunity for visitors to see the science behind the seed banking process and enjoy behind the scenes experiences inside the Seed Vault and Clean Laboratory where scientists work with tissue culture.

Dr Brett Summerell, Deputy Executive Director Science and Conservation at the Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands said winning two 2015 Museums and Galleries National Awards demonstrates how engaging science can be.

“These awards affirm we offer an outstanding visitor experience for people to learn about plants and the fascinating conservation and research activities within our ‘open-house’ style facility,” Dr Summerell said.

“Visitors see scientists at work in labs, are walked through the entire seed banking process and view the disaster proof seed vault which protects Australia’s seed and rare plant tissue collection from extinction.

“The visually stunning and content-rich Diversity Wall explores biodiversity, the foundation of a healthy planet, through the innovative juxtaposition of historical objects, large-scale state-of-the-art scientific imagery such as electron-microscope scans, interactive drawers and engaging text.

“The award winning interpretation and App provide a dynamic entry-point to learning about plants and PlantBank – a marrying of scientific process and education that is unique,” he said.

The Australian PlantBank’s Innovative Interpretation and Mobile App won the Australian PlantBank two awards at the prestigious 2015 Museums and Galleries National Awards. The App was also highly commended in the Multimedia and Publication Design Awards.

Dr Summerell said the Australian PlantBank is open weekdays during business hours for self-guided tours and with volunteer tours most weekends (10am or 1pm), Now visitors can use the App for a self-guided virtual tour whenever they like.

“Using the App, you can explore PlantBank through behind-the scenes virtual tours, with scientists sharing what they do in video clips. The fun Q&A encourages interaction with the real and tangible garden growing right next to you,” he said.

“Outside PlantBank, the App provides a self-guided audio tour of the nearby critically endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland – encouraging visitors to discover the local endangered plants and animals.

“The App is great to use when PlantBank is open too because it provides behind the scenes experiences inside the Seed Vault and the Clean Laboratory where scientists work with tissue culture,” Dr Summerell said.

In developing the interpretation and App, Sophie Daniel, A/Manager Community Education Programs, Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands said the aim was to build teaching and learning experience right into the very fabric of the state-of-the-art research facility.

“Visitors wanted galleries of images they could use – we gave them this. Visitors wanted to know more about the ‘weird’ building – we opened up and explained restricted areas they usually wouldn’t see. And visitors asked really simple things like ‘what is biodiversity?’ The Interpretation allows us to demonstrate what this is and then direct visitors to where they see it in action. And children were given a fun plant quiz too,” Ms Daniel said.

Judges said the App provides an exciting and innovative approach to interpreting the PlantBank. They commended its strong reference to curriculum that makes the App a genuine educational tool.

About the author
Karla Davies is the Public Relations Manager for the Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands.

Download the PlantBank App from the Apple App Store or Google Play.