Adkins Arboretum Awarded Prestigious Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services

Thanks to a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Adkins Arboretum is poised to undertake a major upgrade of its Native Plant Database. Coinciding with the Arboretum’s plan for a major expansion of its cultivated gardens and restoration areas in conjunction with the construction of a new visitor’s center, the project will enable the Arboretum to improve management of its plant collection as an informative educational tool for the public.

The Native Garden Gateway project—a significant portion of the visitor’s center expansion—will add five new acres of landscaped grounds and thousands of new plants to the Arboretum’s collection while demonstrating sustainable landscape techniques and, as a pilot project for the Sustainable Sites Initiative, give the Arboretum national exposure as a site to visit to observe sustainable landscaping practices. This growth in its collection will also position the Arboretum to more fully incorporate its plant collection into enhanced outreach and educational programming for schoolchildren and adults.

First installed in 2004, the Arboretum’s Native Plant Database allows users to learn about individual plants and plant communities on the Arboretum grounds. The public can view locations of species, map plants that are currently flowering, and print fact sheets and view photos of each species or lists of species in a particular garden or plant community. The database project is integral to maintaining accurate collection records and to providing up-to-date botanical information to the public. The $52,910 Museums for America award from IMLS will increase the Arboretum’s capacity to map existing collections and new plantings; update database software to improve user-friendliness and increase information; increase the efficiency of data collection; and train staff and volunteers.

“IMLS is a highly competitive grant program, so the Arboretum is proud to be one of only three Maryland institutions to receive a grant this year,” said Arboretum Executive Director Ellie Altman. “These funds will enable the Arboretum to complete important work documenting the plants on the Arboretum’s grand and will position it for professional accreditation as a museum.”

“Congratulations to the Museums for America grantees,” said IMLS Director Susan Hildreth. “We are pleased to support museums through investments in high-priority, high value activities that benefit communities throughout the U.S. These museums, large and small, will help to educate and inspire the public for years to come.”

Museums for America is the largest grant program for museums at IMLS, providing more than $16 million in grants to support the role of museums in American society: to sustain cultural heritage, to support lifelong learning, and to be centers of community engagement. Museums for America grants strengthen the museums’ ability to serve the public more effectively by supporting high-priority activities that advance the institution’s mission and strategic goals.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture and knowledge, enhance learning and innovation, and support professional development.
Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. Through its Campaign to Build a Green Legacy, the Arboretum will build a new LEED-certified Arboretum Center and entranceway to broaden educational offerings and research initiatives promoting best practices in conservation and land stewardship. For additional information about Arboretum programs, visit or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

In photo: A grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will enable Adkins Arboretum to undertake a major upgrade of its Native Plant Database, an initiative that allows users to learn about individual plants and plant communities on the Arboretum grounds. The Arboretum was one of only three Maryland institutions to receive funding through IMLS’s Museums for America program.