The South London Botanical Institute, which has been open for 113 years, has as part of a huge restoration project to save it from collapsing.
The Institute (SLBI) occupies a three-storey Victorian house on Norwood Road, Tulse Hill, which first opened to the public in 1910. The historic building has an extensive botanical library, herbarium (dried plant collection), lecture room, as well as the beautiful botanical garden.
The renovation will involve significant structural work, to tackle major subsidence, and involves totally emptying the building for 6-9 months. While the building is closed the SLBI will continue to run an extensive programme of events, including online talks, botanical walks, and other plant-related educational events in local community spaces for people of all ages and backgrounds.
The SLBI will be using the closure as an opportunity to make some accessibility improvements to the building, as well as to develop even more links with local community groups.
The SLBI was founded in 1910 by Allan Octavian Hume to promote and encourage the study of botany in South London. He intended the Institute to be a place to assist amateur botanists who could not easily consult the plant collections at Kew Gardens or the Natural History Museum.
The Institute is popular with botany fans, with many enjoying the stunning botanical garden. Visitors can consult the herbarium and extensive library. In 2022, SLBI members and people from the local community attended talks and events ranging from Botany for Gardeners and Botanical Perfumery to House Plants, Terrariums, Wildflowers and a Plantinum Jubilee celebration.
Maria Vorontsova, SLBI President said:
“2023 promises to be an exciting time for the Institute as we restore our historic building. It will be thrilling to see the renovation in progress over the next few months, helping us to continue bringing the world of botany to future generations. We are aiming to re-open in the late summer and look forward to welcoming visitors back to a new and improved Institute. In the meantime, we will be continuing to run our exciting and informative events, including online talks, off-site walks, stalls and other community activities.”
The SLBI will be moving to a new temporary office in Brixton while the restoration work on the Institute takes place.