Vacaville Museum
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Wed - Sun from 1 - 4:30pm

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Current Exhibit

Nature's Beloved Son Logo

Nature's Beloved Son, Rediscovering John Muir's Botanical Legacy
with Solano's Man of Botany, Willis Jepson

August 29 - October 17, 2014

John Muir was a botanist throughout his life and his fondness for the nature and beauty of plants contributed significantly to his understanding of the need to preserve wilderness.  Yet this aspect of the well-known conservationist’s passions is little known.  In the spirit which John Muir embraced the botanical world, the traveling exhibition Nature’s Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muir’s Botanical Legacy traces his travels to Canada, Indiana, the American southeast, California, and Alaska, and presents vivid images and specimens of the actual plants that Muir held in his hands, carried in his pockets, and preserved for all time.

Several hundred of these plant specimens were scanned at herbaria throughout North American and digitally enhanced by Pleasant Hill photographer Stephen J. Joseph and studied under the direction of Muir scholar and curator Bonnie Gisel.  They collaborated to create an exquisite and informative book published by Heyday Books (2008) and now pour their talents into this traveling exhibition, which opens at Vacaville Museum on August 29 and runs through October 17, 2014.

About the Exhibition

Nature's Beloved Son includes high-resolution images of John Muir’s plant specimens on large format canvas and paper prints, allowing the exploration of the structures, patterns, and anatomies of the plant world.  Historic images, and pages and drawings from Muir’s journals set the context for his plant collecting and a set of original plant specimens shows visitors the real thing!  To further inspire, the exhibition includes several quotes from Muir about his fascination with nature and devotion to plants.  

Images and specimens featured in the exhibition include plants from throughout North American, including California Polypod Fern, Washington Lily, Mountain Lady's Slipper, Five Spot, Pale Laurel, Knobcone Pine, and Bent Grass (California); Lady’s Slipper Orchid, Twin Flower, Honey Locust, Northern Clintonia, and Engelmann Spruce (British Columbia); White Arctic Mountain Heather, Pygmy Buttercup, Narcissus-flowered Anemone, and Alaska Cedar (Alaska); Sea Oats and Myrtle (Florida); Sassafras and Sand Myrtle (North Carolina); and Trumpet Flower and Bleeding Heart (Indiana). Featured are collections from the John Muir National Historic Site, Special Collections at the University of the Pacific, Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Harvard University Herbaria. 

Nature's Beloved Son is traveling to museums, botanical gardens, and parks throughout North America and will appeal to a wide range of visitors including people interested in botany, history, ecology, environmentalism, John Muir himself, the history of science, and art.  Gardeners, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts will also enjoy this unique collection of botanicals.

Through the beauty of botany visitors are asked how nature might inspire them as it did John Muir so profoundly and reflect on the status of the biodiversity of plants in today’s world.

Read a review of the exhibition here.

Exhibition Support

Nature’s Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muir’s Botanical Legacy is produced and toured by Exhibit Envoy in partnership with Bonnie Gisel, Stephen J. Joseph, Heyday Books, and the Bedford Gallery. This exhibition was supported by the Skirball Foundation and private donors.  Students and faculty from the University of California, Davis Design School and Design Museum designed the exhibition.

The installation at Vacaville Museum August 29- October 17, 2014 was made possible with support from the Solano County Board of Supervisors


We Know Jack!

We Know Jack!
Large, long-eared fiberglass jack rabbits - decorated, embellished and adorned by area artists - will invade and transform our community in the spring and summer of 2015.
One of our native creatures, jack rabbits as an artform will playfully heighten our colorful community and brighten our lives while raising funds to support Vacaville Museum. For further information, contact the project committee at and like the We Know Jack! community page on facebook.