Glass Flowers: The Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants

  • image of glass flowers in case
  • Two people in the Glass Flowers gallery
  • Apple Blossom detail in Glass Flowers Gallery exhibit

One of Harvard University’s most famous treasures is the internationally acclaimed Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, better known as the “Glass Flowers." This unique collection was made by Leopold (1822-1895) and Rudolf Blaschka (1857-1939), a father and son team of Czech glass artists. Over fifty years, from 1886 through 1936, the Blaschkas produced 4,300 glass models that represent 780 plant species.

The Glass Flowers gallery underwent a historic renovation in 2016, introducing rebuilt, original historic wood and glass display cases, new state-of-the-art lighting, and sophisticated conservation systems. The newly configured gallery space and scientific interpretation showcases the ongoing scientific relevance of the collection and enriches the visitors’ experience of the models.

Fruits in Decay is a special exhibit in the Glass Flowers gallery that explores blight, rot, and other diseases on summer fruits.

Virtual Private Group Tours

(In-person group tours are temporarily suspended until further notice.)

Virtual private docent-guided group tours can be scheduled for groups of 30 or fewer participants, to allow for an interactive experience.

Tours are available Tuesday through Friday from 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm EST, with evening hours available by request.

A tour fee of $150 covers up to 30 participants. Larger groups can arrange for multiple programs. Discounted tours ($120) are available for members at the Contributing level and above.

Please register your group at least two weeks in advance. A nonrefundable $50 deposit is required at the time of reservation, with the remaining fee due 1 week in advance of the program. Tour fees are nonrefundable.

To request a Glass Flowers group tour, please complete the online registration form.


This exhibition is supported by a generous gift in memory of Melvin R. Seiden AB ’52, LLB ’55 and a grant provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, a program of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts administered through a collaborative arrangement between MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The conservation of the Glass Flowers is supported by a gift from George Putnam III ’73, J.D. ’77, M.B.A. ’77, and Kathy Putnam.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are they really glass?

Yes, the models are made entirely of glass often reinforced internally with a wire support.


Who made the Glass Flowers?

The models were created by father and son Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, nineteenth century glass artisans who perfected their family craft. Their lineage of jewelers and glassmakers trace as far back as the fifteenth century.

How were the models made?

The parts were shaped after the glass was softened by heat. Some models were blown. Colored glass was used for many, others were "cold painted" with a thin wash of colored ground glass or metal oxide(s) and heated until the material fused to the model.

When were they made?

The models were made from 1887 through 1936.

Where were the Glass Flowers made?

The Blaschka's studio was located in Hosterwitz, near Dresden, Germany.

Why were the models made?

Harvard Professor George Lincoln Goodale,  founder of the Botanical Museum, wanted life-like representatives of the plant kingdom for teaching botany. At the time only crude papier-mâché or wax models were available.

The life-size models include 847 species, with remarkably accurate anatomical sections and enlarged flower parts. Since the Glass Flowers are always in bloom, tropical and temperate species may be studied year-round.

Who gave the models to Harvard?

Mrs. Elizabeth C. Ware and her daughter Mary Lee Ware financed the collection and presented it to Harvard University as a memorial to Dr. Charles Eliot Ware, Class of 1834.