The time has finally come: from Friday (06.08.), visitors to the Frankfurt Palmengarten will be able to visit the new Flower and Butterfly House and experience the new permanent exhibition "Dusted off - by flowers and their visitors". After the opening had to be postponed several times, another highlight in the Palmengarten's anniversary year has now been reached.
Almost a year ago, in October 2020 to be precise, test operations already began in the glass house ensemble measuring around 800 square metres: the first pupae were delivered, hatched, unfolded and were soon flying around among the colourful flowers of the warm house. All still hidden from the eyes of the palm garden guests. But that is changing now, because from Friday visitors to the Palmengarten will also be able to experience this little wonder: At the pupa station, the metamorphosis of a butterfly from pupa to butterfly can be observed, while walking through the house, you can get very close to banana butterflies, white tree nymphs, sky butterflies and Atlas butterflies.
Just a few steps away, in the adjacent cold house, the exhibition "Dusted off - by flowers and their visitors", designed for the Flower and Butterfly House, invites visitors to discover the diversity of insects. In addition to basic information on the subject of pollination and the question of what is actually inside a flower, the show illustrates the fascinating diversity that has developed over the course of many millions of years through manifold interactions between flowers and their pollinators. Why do pollinators fly to flowers in the first place? How do insects see the environment through their compound eyes, how do flowers look to them? The new exhibition answers these and many other questions. And not only theoretically, but also practically. Visitors can trigger the lever mechanism of a sage blossom themselves or try out which sucker fits which blossom. In the adjacent workshop room of the Palmengarten's Green School, what has been learned and experienced can be worked on further and the topic of flower biology can be explored in greater depth.
There is no question about it: with the opening of the Flower and Butterfly House, the Palmengarten has gained a wonderful attraction. In its anniversary year, the Palmengarten has for the first time named a guiding theme for its educational work and programming, which it will play on with guided tours, digital and print formats over the next two years. The Flower and Butterfly House is the starting point and centrepiece of this first guiding theme, which is extensively dedicated to "flower and pollinator ecology". Palmengarten Director Katja Heubach explains: "Our tropical butterflies are the sympathetic figures with which we want to draw the attention of our visitors to a highly relevant topic: the enormous benefit of insects for us humans and, at the same time, the danger they are in." In the exhibition "Abgestaubt - von Blüten und ihren Besuchern" (Dusted off - about blossoms and their visitors), Palmengarten guests will learn what the Bembel, or rather its contents, apple wine, has to do with the bee and what other cultural and economic services pollinators provide for us humans. In the open air and in the neighbouring Botanical Garden they can observe which insect flies to which flower and how the pollination process takes place. With digital offers they can deepen their knowledge at home and on the road. "In this way, the Palmengarten and Botanic Garden become a model learning site that explains and clarifies the importance of pollination from an ecological and economic perspective. With our central theme running through all areas, a unique educational offer is being created for all target groups - for adults and for children from pre-school age to school-leaving age. The guiding theme will accompany us until at least the end of 2023 - so there is plenty of time to deal intensively with this multi-layered topic," says Heubach.
The design of the Blossom and Butterfly House, a galvanized steel structure lined with insulating glass, comes from the architectural firm Kissler + Effgen. The building sections, which vary in size and height, are all interconnected, which is why the overall volume remains compact and the areas of the outer shell have been minimised. The selection of different types of glazing, energy screening and shading systems, in combination with the heating, irrigation and humidification systems, create various climate zones inside. These can be adapted to the needs of the various plant species on a house-by-house basis. The joining principle, dimensional arrangement and technology of the glass houses are derived from modern greenhouse constructions. The architecture is restrained and focuses on the exhibits: flowers and butterflies.
The costs for the new building amount to eight million euros. 2.5 million euros will be borne by the Palmengarten and Botanical Garden Foundation, 5.5 million by the City of Frankfurt. From the municipal side, the Office for Building and Real Estate (ABI) is supporting the construction project during all project phases - from the preparation and announcement of the competition to the supervision of all trades.