Secret Structures: A new exhibition using Inside Explorer reveals the inner workings of plants

The recently opened Secret Structures exhibition at the Millennium Seed Bank offers a unique insight into the wonderful world of plants and fungi. Visitors can learn more about plants using the intuitive technology of the Inside Explorer table.

The Millennium Seed Bank based at Kew Wakehurst in the South of England is a place designed to preserve and study the world’s botanical heritage. In 2009 the team at the Millennium Seed Bank reached their initial goal of storing seeds from all of the UK’s native plant species, with a few rare exceptions. By 2020 it is hoped the centre will have conserved 25% of the world’s plant species. This preservation of seeds has the ultimate goal of insuring against the extinction of plant species in the future.

However, its aim is not only to be a storage facility for the preservation of plant life, but also to carry out important scientific research in order to help safeguard against the destruction of plant habitats and species, and to educate the public about the importance of doing so.

The launch of this exciting new exhibition exploring the inner life of plants helps the centre achieve that aim. It gives visitors to the Seed Bank an opportunity to learn about the fragile structures and inner workings of plants that would normally be hidden from the naked eye. Using the Inside Explorer table, the user can peel back layers of various scanned specimens, including a Brazil nut, a piece of oak, and an orchid flower, to discover and explore the amazing structures and biology within.

For this collaborative project the content for the exhibition was created using a CT scanner  from the Natural History Museum. Scans of plants, seeds and flowers offer an insight unlike any other, and brings users of the technology closer to understanding plant life than ever before.

“Secret Structures: inside the story of plants and fungi” opened on 8 April, and is free to visitors with tickets to the gardens at Kew Wakehurst.

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