Jardin National de Belgique/Nationale Plantentuin van België
(Nieuwelaan 38, Meise)
   The first botanical gardens began as a collection in 1797 that was located at the Montagne de la Couronne, the current site of the Bibliothèque royale de Belgique. The exhibits had been assembled by a decree issued during the French regime that mandated a biology collection be maintained by institutions of higher learning. A limited liability company was founded—Koninklijke Maatschappij van kruid, bloem en boom Kwekerije der Nederlanden—during the Dutch regime that oversaw laying out a new garden on 6.4 ha (15 acres) of land in rural countryside between the present place Rogier and the porte de Schaerbeek in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode. The grounds of the Jardin Botanique (Kruidtuin) featured a neoclassical building, based largely on a design by Tilman-François Suys, with large glasshouses and side pavilions. Three terraces of gardens were laid out by Charles-Henri Petersen and 52 sculptures ornamented the grounds. Few remain today. During the Belgian Revolution, extensive damage was caused by Dutch troops, who entrenched themselves in the greenhouses.
   The operating organization changed its name to Société royale d'Horticulture de Belgique in 1837. Plagued by financial problems, the company sold a portion of the grounds to build the Gare du Nord, but continuing budget shortfalls led to purchase of the collections by the Belgian government, an action facilitated by botanist Barthélémy Dumortier.
   The collections grew to become too cramped and the state purchased a 92-ha (230-acre) portion of a country estate—the Domaine de Bouchout—at Meise in 1938. In 1939, the first buildings and greenhouses were erected and the Balat greenhouse moved here. The Plantenpaleis (Plant palace) was constructed in 1947 and a new wing was added in 1985-1987. The National Garden of Belgium features exhibits and sponsors extensive research.
   It is governed by a Dutch-language board of directors. Staff from Dutch-language and French-language universities share in the work of researching and maintaining the collections, paid for by the respective language communities.
   The former botanical gardens, the Botanique, now houses the Centre culturel de la Communauté française de Belgique.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

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