Since 1891 NYBG has been a museum of plants dedicated to achieving excellence in horticulture, education, and plant research and conservation. Today it is one of the great cultural institutions in the world, a preeminent center for botanical research, a natural treasure for visitors of all ages, and a leader and national model for plant-based education. In 1888 the Garden’s founders, Dr. Nathaniel Lord Britton, a Columbia University professor of botany and geology, and his wife, Elizabeth Knight Britton, an avid and respected scholar of mosses, traveled to London and visited the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Inspired by what they saw, the Brittons returned to New York determined to create a similar institution. On April 28, 1891, the Legislature of the State of New York passed an act incorporating The New York Botanical Garden, providing for the building and development of “a public botanic garden of the highest class” on 250 acres of land in northernmost New York City “for the collection and culture of plants, flowers, shrubs and trees, [and] the advancement of botanical science and knowledge…and for the entertainment, recreation, and instruction of the people.”
Continuing to fulfill the ambitious goals of its founders, NYBG is committed to: SAVING THE PLANTS OF THE WORLD, by conducting research that generates original knowledge about biodiversity for the use of conservation organizations and public policymakers worldwide, and graduate programs that train new generations of plant biologists and conservationists; CREATING A GREEN URBAN OASIS, by providing stewardship of the historic landscape the institution has protected since the 1890s, and continued development of an urban oasis to inspire and teach large numbers of visitors to love and value nature; CONNECTING GARDENING TO THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES, by offering multidisciplinary interpretive exhibitions and educational programs that reveal the deep connections between plants and people, nature and culture, and illuminate the importance of gardens to human health and to the lives and work of influential artists and thinkers;
TEACHING SCIENCE TO CITY KIDS, by designing programs to improve scientific literacy among school teachers and children of all ages to increase their awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the natural world; and ANCHORING THE COMMUNITY, by focusing on developing the economy of the Borough of the Bronx through ongoing employment opportunities and capital projects and the well-being of its residents through urban farming and community garden programs.