Bavaria’s digital treasury bavarikon presents the artistic world of fungi of the Botanische Staatssammlung München
Two valuable collections of fungi watercolours preserved at the Botanische Staatssammlung München (SNSB-BSM) are now available on the Bavarian state‘s website „bavarikon“, an online service provided by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. The illustrations by the two artists and fungi experts Konrad Schie-ferdecker and Dr. Fritz Wohlfarth are not only scientifically important, but they are also a unique artistic and cultural treasure: The collection data previously only available on international natural science portals is now published Bavaria’s digital treasury.
The approximately 3,300 scientific illustrations of fungi are maintained at the Bavarian State Collection for Botany (Botanische Staatssammlung München – BSM). Their digital indexing and presentation on the internet started in 2000. The data sets were among the first botanical objects available on internatio-nally renowned biodiversity data networks such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). As part of the initiative of the Bavarian State Ministry of Science and Art, the data scientists and software developers of the SNSB IT Center now organized the technical transformation of the data to integrate the two digital collections of fungi watercolors by Konrad Schieferdecker (1902 – 1965) and Dr. Fritz Wohlfarth (1906 – 2005) into the infrastructure of the online portal bavarikon.
bavarikon is the internet portal of the Free State of Bavaria for the presentation of art, culture and stocks of knowledge from Bavarian institutions. It provides worldwide free access to a broad spectrum of cultural assets and is aimed at both the culturally interested public and academic users. More than 440,000 items from over 150 cultural institutions are available online so far. These now include the Bavarian Natural History Collections (Staatliche Naturwissenschaftliche Sammlungen Bayerns – SNSB) with their botanical state collections (BSM). bavarikon is a joint project of the Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts and the State Ministry of Digital Affairs. The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is respon-sible for the ongoing editorial, technical and organizational operation.
The Bavarian State Collection for Botany houses around 3.2 million objects, mainly dried plants, fungi and lichens. The Schieferdecker and Wohlfarth fungi watercolor collections document many native fungi species with their appearance and detailed structures and features, as well as the time and place of their discovery. “The two collections present 3,300 magnificent artworks of scientific botanical painting of the second half of the last century. In the naturalistically correct depictions, the craftsmanship and artistic skill of Schieferdecker and Wohlfarth – combined with their specialist scientific expertise – becomes clear,” explains Dr. Dagmar Triebel, responsible collection curator and head of the digitization project.
Ever since Carl von Linné began creating herbaria and fungaria, collections of dried plants and fungi, the visual documentation of the shape and appearance of the objects in their living state has played an important role. Unlike other botanical objects, fungi lose both shape and color during the drying process. In addition to the dried specimens images are necessary to identify species.
“With the widespread introduction of color photography in the 1970s, artistic watercolors are rarely added to collection objects at the Bavarian State Collection of Botany,” regrets Prof. Gudrun Kadereit, director of the Bavarian State Collection for Botany as well as the Botanical Garden Munich-Nymphenburg. “Therefore, digitization and preservation of these historical illustrations is more important than ever. The images are real treasures of knowledge. Their precise representation, richness of detail, and naturalistic focus on relevant features are currently gaining new importance in the age of AI.”
The bavarikon platform now makes this artistic digital world of fungi of around 1,600 native species accessible to interested citizens. The realization of the technical connection to bavarikon opens up new possibilities for data exchange between library and archive services and Diversity Workbench-based data repositories of natural science research collections.
The Bavarian State Collection of Botany is part of the Bavarian Natural History Collections (SNSB). It was founded in 1813 as the “Herbarium Regium Monacense” (Royal Munich Herbarium) by King Max I Joseph and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften). It houses more than 3.2 million herbarium specimens – including historical specimens, collected in the late 17th century.
- Collection of fungi watercolours by Dr. Fritz Wohlfarth in bavarikon
- Collection of fungi watercolours by Konrad Schieferdecker in bavarikon
- bavarikon – Bavaria’s digital treasury
Dr. Dagmar Triebel
SNSB Botanische Staatssammlung München & SNSB IT Zentrum
Tel.: 089 17861 252