Museum as breeding ground
The Botanical Museum was established in 1883 on the basis of the Carpological and Algae Collection, which itself had been created by combining two bequests from, respectively, the doctor and botanist Heinrich Wilhelm Buek and former Hamburg mayor and amateur scientist Niclaus Binder.
The objective was to acquaint the general public with the world’s most important ecomomic plants in a suitable context and “in a clear and educational manner.” The museum was opened to the public in 1885.
In the same year, at the urging of Hamburg’s business community, the product research laboratory was opened. The flourishing trade in the Port of Hamburg and the increasing imports from overseas necessitated an institution where unknown plants could be identified and advice about their possible uses could be given. It was also necessary to establish the authenticity of rare drugs and commercial goods, and to detect counterfeits.
In the following years, the laboratory was expanded to include a department of seed control for testing commercial seeds, a plant protection station for inspecting vegetable goods that entered the port and hindering the introduction of diseases or agricultural pests, and a chemical laboratory.
In 1912, these all merged to form the State Institute of Applied Botany, Hamburg’s authority for independent scientific botanical assessments and qualified consultation, especially for businesses, on all kinds of vegetable goods or raw products.
In 1919, the Institute became part of Universität Hamburg.
In 2003, the Institutes for Applied and General Botany were incorporated into the Institute for Plant Science and Microbiology.