News Column

Vanessa Bezemer Sellers Named Humanities Research Coordinator at the New York Botanical Garden

May 28, 2014



BRONX, N.Y., May 28 -- The New York Botanical Garden issued the following news release:

The New York Botanical Garden is pleased to announce that Vanessa Bezemer Sellers, Ph.D., has been appointed to the position of Humanities Research Coordinator of the Botanical Garden's Humanities Institute.

In her role, Sellers will direct the Garden's new Humanities Institute, located within the Garden's renowned LuEsther T. Mertz Library. Established to strengthen and formalize the Garden's academic role among museums, universities, and libraries, the Humanities Institute will also serve scholars who wish to further their studies in a premier plant research center. The fundamental purpose of the Institute is to form an intellectual community of visiting scholars and graduate fellows whose investigations involve innovative interdisciplinary approaches to areas such as landscape and garden design, urban planning, art history, cultural anthropology, and environmental studies.

Sellers will be organizing symposia related to Garden programs and initiatives; designing and implementing a short-term residency program for established scholars; overseeing all planning for the launch of a year-long fellowship program for emerging, pre- or post-doctoral scholars; strengthening relations with surrounding institutions of higher learning; and collaborating with university faculty and staff of the Garden's professional programs to promote joint activities around the collections of The New York Botanical Garden. The Institute's inaugural symposium, Women and the City: From a Landscape Perspective, inspired by the Garden-wide exhibition, Groundbreakers: Great American Gardens and The Women Who Designed Them, will be held on Friday, June 20, 2014, at the Garden.

"Dr. Sellers brings to the position a great humanities research background. She is intimately familiar with the Library and its collections after working for more than two years coordinating a publication about the Library collection and is the logical choice to fill this position," said Susan Fraser, Director of the Mertz Library. "The Institute is anchored in the Library where scholars from around the world, including botanists, art historians, landscape designers, artists, and bibliophiles, have come to advance their studies. Dr. Sellers is enthusiastic about the possibilities of finding synergies with people working in different disciples and linking science, culture, art, and the landscape."

"It is a great pleasure and honor to head the Humanities Institute at The New York Botanical Garden and direct its innovative research program, established to connect the arts and sciences," Sellers said. "I am looking forward to developing initiatives that will foster new interdisciplinary approaches both inside and outside the Garden. The Humanities Institute is timely: in addition to being an acknowledged science center, the Mertz Library has recently been recognized by the National Endowment for the Humanities as a premier resource for studies in the arts and humanities. I am excited to work with the dedicated staff of the Garden to make the Humanities Institute an invaluable academic asset for researchers."

Sellers first visited the Garden in 1989 during her first weekend upon moving to New York City. She became a member a few months later and began to think of the Garden as her "home away from home." She officially became involved with the Garden when she became a member of the Library Visiting Committee in 2006. Since 2011 she has served as Executive Editor for Flora Illustrata: Great Works on Botany, Horticulture, and Garden Design, a forthcoming book published by The New York Botanical Garden in collaboration with Yale University Press.

She has taught at the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture in New York, worked for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and also served as a Summer Fellow in Gardens and Landscape Studies at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C. Her area of expertise is 17th-century Dutch gardens.

Sellers earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Art History from Leiden University, the Netherlands, and continued her studies in the United States, completing her Ph.D. in Art History and Archeology at Princeton University.

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