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Arts and heritage

Help us inspire new generations with a passion for botanic art, royal heritage and architectural innovation.
several items of botanical art from kew's library, art and archives
A sample of botanical illustrations from our vast collections in the Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives department.

Over two and a half centuries, Kew’s passion for art, architecture and pursuit of knowledge about plants and the natural world has endowed us with an extraordinary legacy. Help us share this unparalleled collection of botanical resources and historical treasures.

Art at Kew

Opened in 1882, the Marianne North Gallery has been fully restored, at a cost of £3.7 million. The project involved making much needed structural repairs to the building; restoring and conserving all of the 832 paintings. The restoration was supported by the ‘adoption’ of individual Marianne North paintings, together with a £1.8 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant, and additional financial support from other donors.

The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art opened at Kew Gardens in April 2008 and is the only continuously open gallery in the world dedicated solely to botanical art. It holds regular exhibitions throughout the year featuring historical and contemporary botanical illustrations.

Kew's Library has more than 200,000 prints and drawings, including original works of art in various media. These range in date from the great masters of botanical illustration of the 18th and 19th century, together with the work of 20th century and present-day contributors. The library also holds an extensive collection of portraits of individuals relating to all aspects of botany and horticulture. There are many opportunities for donors to support the Library, both with ongoing conservation of art, and also with the more than half a million other items, including books, photographs, letters and manuscripts, periodicals, biographies and maps.

Kew's heritage

Existing buildings, lost monuments and follies; gardens and landscapes new and old; botanic collections and Kew's places of work; they are all part of Kew's heritage, as are the people who inspired them or designed and built them. On 3 July 2003 the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew was officially inscribed on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

One person who has left a lasting impression is Decimus Burton (1800 to 1881), a brilliant architect from an early age. He designed two of Kew’s most iconic buildings, the Palm House, opened in 1848, with Richard Turner, and the Temperate House, started in 1859, though not completed until 1899. Other buildings he designed include Museum No. 1 which opened in 1857, the Queen Elizabeth Gate (1846 - now the entrance to the Lower Nursery), and the Main Gate, renamed Elizabeth Gate in 2013, off Kew Green.

How your donation can make a difference

Your gift can help us look after our treasures and collections of national importance. You will help Kew:

  • inspire new generations of artists and designers with one of the world’s greatest botanical art collections of over 200,000 works.
  • conserve and restore Kew’s 44 structures of national importance. These include buildings such as William Chambers’s Pagoda, the Temperate House, and the world’s most famous botanical conservatory, the Palm House.
  • improve access to our collections through public exhibitions and digitisation projects.

Introducing the Kew Fund

The Kew Fund is an annual fundraising campaign that pools the collective force of thousands of individuals to make a big impact with their contributions at Kew.

Through the Kew Fund, we ask members and supporters to make a contribution to support our extraordinary institution. Kew relies on a mix of funding including philanthropy, government grants from Defra, as well as memberships, gate receipts and other earned income. Kew’s annual budget is around £50 million, of which almost 50 per cent is provided by non-government sources.

Every contribution, no matter what size, makes a difference to Kew. You can make a regular gift by Direct Debit, or give by credit/debit card online, or download a form to post. We’ll keep you in touch with how your support is helping Kew.

Donate now