The Hunt Botanical Library is housed on the top floor of the Hunt Library at Carnegie Mellon. It was the result of a generous donation by Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt who possessed an obsessive passion for botanical books and prints. Her collection is one of the largest and rarest in the the world. Her desire to share her precious finds with the public at large let to an exquisite gift to Carnegie Mellon. Many esteemed institutions were interested in the collection but she wanted to keep it in Pittsburgh. She offered it to the University of Pittsburgh first but they only had room to display a small portion and told her they would sell the rest. Rachel was aghast at such a suggestion and immediately contacted Carnegie Tech (later to become Carnegie Mellon University). They were interested at the time did not even have a library. The generous Hunt family then provided an endowment to build a library that would house their precious collection and promote the study of botany.
The Institute was dedicated in 1961 as an international center for bibliographical research and study in botany and horticulture. Rachel Hunt’s personal touch is found throughout the institute and you can’t help but feel her presence as you enter the space she so lovingly created.
If you hurry you can still catch the 14th International Exhibition that only comes to Pittsburgh every four years. It includes 41 of the most astounding artworks you will ever encounter that represent extremely talented artists from 10 countries. The exhibit ends tomorrow but it is an experience you will not soon forget. It is a soothing way to escape the hectic rush of the holidays and will instantly transform you into a state of calm tranquility. The hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. This schedule is adjusted for holidays so they will be closed next week.