Adkins Arboretum Transforms Living Collections Database

Adkins Arboretum recently upgraded and increased the accessibility of its Living Collections Database. The upgrade was made possible with a $25,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), awarded through its most competitive grant program, Museums for America, in the category of collections stewardship. Adkins Arboretum is considered a living museum, as its exhibits are in the forms of living plant material, land preservation and educational resources.

Adkins Arboretum Horticultural Consultant Leslie Hunter Cario, at left, and volunteer Laura Rocco identify plants for inclusion in the Arboretum’s Living Collections Database. The database was recently revamped and upgraded with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The upgrade transformed the Living Collections Database into a robust, user-friendly database, geographic information system (GIS) and web mapping platform for broader public access and to improve monitoring and management of the Arboretum’s living collections. The end result is an easily navigable Living Collections Database that may be accessed online for all who are interested in learning more about the Arboretum’s flora. The expanded inventory of mapped plants makes it easier for visitors to locate species of interest, and it links to outside resources such as the Maryland Plant Atlas, further enhancing the learning experience.

The project was completed over a two-year period by Adkins staff, including Executive Director Ginna Tiernan, Land Steward Kathy Thornton, Chesapeake Bay Trust Chesapeake Conservation Corps Members Emily Castle, Nathan Simmons and Blake Steiner, Arboretum volunteers, and local contractors Sylvan Kaufman of Sylvan Green Earth Consulting, Thayer Young of Cicada Systems GIS Consulting and Leslie Hunter Cario of Chesapeake Horticultural Services.

Founded in 1980 as Maryland’s official state arboretum, Adkins Arboretum is now a native plant preserve. Located adjacent to Tuckahoe State Park, the Arboretum operates and maintains a visitor’s center, 400 acres of meadows, woods and wetlands, and five miles of paths under a 50-year lease with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Its diverse collection includes more than 600 species of trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers native to the Eastern Shore and the Mid-Atlantic coastal plain. For more information, visit or call 410-634-2847.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit or follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.

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