Colors in Everyday Life

Exhibition: Plant and Animal Dyes on Display in University Library of Freie Universität Berlin

№ 228/2009 from Sep 03, 2009

Safran wird in der anspruchsvollen Küche verwendet, zum Beispiel für die französische Bouillabaisse, die spanische Paella und Safranreis
Saffron is a valuable spice used in such popular dishes as bouillabaisse, paella, or saffran rice. Image Credit: Marina Kosmalla

An exhibition on animal and plant dyes will be opened Monday, September 7, at 3:00 p.m. in the foyer of the university library of Freie Universität. The exhibition will be on display until October 31. Individual dyes will be presented in text and images, and plant specimens as well as dyed fabrics will be part of the display.

The exhibition was put together by Dr. Martin Börnchen in over two years of preparation time. On numerous panels and in display cases, he shows some of the most important natural dyes and their use. A special emphasis is placed on the most precious animal dye, for the color purple. It is so valuable because over 10,000 purple snails are needed to make one gram of dye.

The vegetable dyes displayed are madder (red), saffron (yellow), safflower (red / yellow), and indigo (blue) from the indigo and woad (sometimes called false indigo) plants. Objects such as plants, snail shells, a Prussian uniform dyed in madder red and indigo blue, and food items colored with natural dyes complete the exhibit.

Martin Börnchen is a retired chemistry teacher from Hamm/Westphalia. He has previously put together several other exhibitions displayed in the University Library – in 2001 an exhibit on the saffron spice, in 2003 one on handmade paper, and in 2005 one on Strontianite mining in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The foyer of the University Library is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Opening Venue:

  • Monday, September 7, 2009, 3 p.m.
  • Foyer of the University Library, Garystr. 39, 14195 Berlin (subway stop: Thielplatz, U3)

Further Information