Patrick Dougherty: Natural History


Patrick Dougherty's sculpture Natural History installation at the garden.

  • $10
  • Free
  • $5
  • $5
  • Free

For three weeks in summer 2010 , artist Patrick Dougherty and a team of volunteers constructed a monumental woven-wood sculpture in honor of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s centennial. The result, Natural History, complements the beauty of the garden through the seasons and is found in the Plant Family Collection near Magnolia Plaza.

Dougherty crafts large-scale sculptures from saplings: weaving, snagging and flexing sticks into playful, nestlike architectural forms that evoke themes of shelter, habitat and sustainability. Created of organic matter, his works have a natural life cycle, changing over time as the sticks settle and decay, eventually returning to the earth they grew from.

The sculpture at BBG is woven from nonnative woody material that was collected from Ocean Breeze Park on Staten Island. The harvesting site was chosen by BBG’s Director of Science because of its proximity to the garden and its large population of nonnative willow (Salix atrocinerea), which is designated an invasive species in New York State. Removal of saplings of this species helped protect the site’s excellent assemblage of herbaceous plants.

During a visit to BBG a year before beginning the work, Dougherty drew sketches and made word associations based on the feelings he experienced while exploring the potential work site. When asked about some of the words that came to mind as he contemplated what he wanted to build in Brooklyn, Dougherty smiled and said "lairs; a place for feral children and wayward adults." Dougherty built his sculpture at BBG between August 5 and August 20, 2010 . Volunteers assisted him with chores including moving plant material, weaving twigs and fielding questions from curious onlookers.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

900 Washington Avenue

(at President Street)

Brooklyn, NY 11225

(718) 623-7200

Visit website


Subway: B, Q to Prospect Park; 2, 3 to Eastern Parkway-Brooklyn Museum; 4,5 to Franklin Avenue. Garden entrances on Eastern Parkway (between Underhill Avenue and Washington Street); on Flatbush Avenue (at Empire Boulevard); on Washington Avenue at President Street.


Mon9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tue8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Wed8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Thu8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Fri8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Sat10:00 am - 4:30 pm
Sun10:00 am - 4:30 pm

Above hours are November 8-March 11 Closed Mondays (but open Martin Luther King Jr. Day and President's Day, 10 am to 4:30 pm)

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