The U.S. Botanic Garden is a living plant museum with exhibits that interpret the role of plants in supporting Earth's diverse and fragile ecosystem and in enriching human life. Its collections date to the 1840s when 250 plants and an unknown quantity of propagation material gathered by the Wilkes Exploring Expedition (1838-1842) were brought back to Washington.
The Garden's present conservatory is a two-part building. The front is a one-story limestone structure with 11 lofty arches inspired by the seventeen-century orangery at Versailles near Paris. The facade features four alternating keystones carved in the images of Pan, Pomona, Triton and Flora. At the rear is a glass and aluminum greenhouse conceived in the glass house tradition first seen in the 1850s Crystal Palace in London.
The conservatory was designed by the Chicago firm of Bennett, Parsons & Frost and completed in 1933.
The U.S. Botanic Garden was formally placed under the jurisdiction of the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress in 1856 and has been administered through the Architect of the Capitol since 1934.
Find out what's blooming in the Conservatory at usbg.gov/gardens/conservatory-whats-bloom.