Botany is the study of plants which occupies an important position in the history of human knowledge. Plants form the basis of food for all living beings and other needs of mankind like clothing, tools, drugs, dyes, shelter and so on. The Museum is a repository of scientific knowledge.

A Brief History of Botany section To begin with, the Botany and Geology sections were dealt together by the curators of the Botany section in the early years of the Museum. When the collections in the Botany and Geology sections increased, their separation was realised, and it was bifurcated into the Botany section and Geology section headed by separate curators.

While, the Geology was the chief field of activity during Balfour's time, Botany gained most important during the period of Dr.Bidie's stewardship of the Museum. Medicinal plants and plants of economic importance were added to the collection. In 1873- 1874 C.E, the herbarium was enriched by the purchase of Lieutenant Colonel Beddome'sherbarium at a cost of Rs.1,500. The collection contained 2,435 specimens, mostly rare plants. A good collection of forest products, specially made and labeled under the super vision of the Director General of Forests was added to the Botany section in 1878 C.E. The Madras Museum Herbarium became famous and well known at Kew.

The Botanical work done by Dr.F.H.Gravely and the late Sri P.V.Mayurananthan, helped to strengthen the Herbarium and the Botanical collections. Flowering plants of Madras city and its immediate Neighbourhood, written by thelate Sri P.V.Mayuranathan, was published in 1929, enthusiastically supported by Mr.E. Barnes of the Madras Christian College.

In the year 1919 C.E. when Mr.H.Dodwell was superintendent in charge, Sri.S.N.Chandrasekaran was appointed as the Botanical Assistant, also served as part time lecturer at the Women's ChristianCollege. He prepared a catalogue of the Economic products in the Economic Botany Gallery.

Educational Activities

The Botany section of Chennai Government Museum, provides guidance in connection with collection, identification, presentation, storage etc., to the educational institutions, Museum keepers, industrialists and others as a part of educational activities. In the recent years under the vocational Training programme in colleges, training is imparted to the college students with reference to the preservation of Botanical specimens and preparation of herbaria mounting of both dry and wet specimens etc., Hands on Training, Lectures and Exhibitions are also conducted in various branches of Botany. Research scholars and students are given facilities for Taxonomic studies and also this sectional library has around 900 books related to Botany for free reference. 


The Botany Galleries are located in the First Floor of the Main Building.

The Botany Galleries of the Museum fall under:

  1. Systematic Botany Gallery
  2. Economic Botany Gallery
  3. Textile Block Gallery

In the Systematic Botany Gallery, the exhibits are arranged in their evolutionary order starting with primitive plants. The families of flowering plants alone numbering over one hundred and fifty. They are not only and interest to the Botanists but also to general public. 

Exhibits in the Economic Botany Gallery, were divided into several groups according to their uses and provides abundance of information to Botanists, industrialists and the general public.

The Textile Block Gallery collections of Government Museum, Chennai are a century old with beautiful and artistic work involved. It would fulfill the needs of the textile designers, Block designers and others who are interested in the field.