A collaborative arts project connecting people, plants, science and culture


The Medicinal Botanicals Project

The Medicinal Botanicals project brings together artists with botanists and pharmacologists to celebrate the important connection between people, plants, science and culture. Throughout 2018 and 2019, diverse partners will come together to produce and exhibit artwork, present symposia and host discussions in a variety of settings.


The pace of innovation in health, pharmacology and medical science is increasing and exponential. Diagnosis, treatment and the healthcare experience are being transformed through innovative technologies such as genome sequencing; targeted pharmaceutical therapies; innovation and interoperability between robotics, wearables and nanotechnology; 3D printing, and virtual and augmented reality. 

As medicine and healthcare advance into the technological future and become increasingly transactional, we need to reflect on, and respect, the important cultural, traditional and scientific provenance of contemporary treatments. This knowledge deepens the sense of purpose and meaning of healthcare, helps us make sense of interventions and ultimately influences the effectiveness and tolerance of contemporary therapy. 

The benefits of nature’s bounty has a deep-rooted narrative. Aboriginal knowledge and pharmacopoeia extends some 60,000 years as rich oral lore and is still embedded in the daily lives of many Indigenous Australians. 

The Museum of Economic Botany in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens was built early during South Australia’s colonisation to ‘advance the agricultural, horticultural and manufacturing industries of South Australia’ as well as to ‘teach us to appreciate the general relations of the vegetable world to man’.  

Health and biomedical research remains a primary pillar of South Australia’s economy. The new Adelaide BioMed City Precinct is one of the largest health and life sciences clusters in the southern hemisphere. 

Australia is one of the most biologically diverse countries on the planet. Most of our plant species and many of our animal species are found nowhere else, and close to 75% are yet to be scientifically described and documented. 

We have a richness of natural resources in our geographically, climatically and biologically diverse environment, which could be the source of unique therapeutic compounds. But our biodiversity is under threat.  

Climate change and other environmental factors, such as the fragmentation and degradation of habitats and unsustainable use of natural resources all contribute to the vulnerability of biodiversity. 

The Medicinal Botanicals Project celebrates the important connection between plants, people and medicine in bringing culture and meaning to contemporary healthcare. 

The project aims to reinforce the value of plants in the development of pharmaceuticals, and celebrate our biodiversity as a sustainable resource for our future prosperity.


Read about the Medicinal Botanicals design rationale

An economist without a knowledge of nature is like a physicist without a knowledge of mathematics.
— Carl Linnaeus 1707-1778