The IRBV (Institut de recherche en biologie végétale − Plant Biology Research Institute) was created in 1990. It is the product of a partnership between the Université de Montréal and the City of Montreal that dates back to the founding of the Montreal Botanical Garden in 1931 by Marie-Victorin (photo, right). Originally established as the Institut botanique de l’Université de Montréal (Université de Montréal Botanical Institute) in 1920, it was relocated to the administration building of the Montreal Botanical Garden in 1939. From 1975 to 1990, the Department of biological sciences of the Université de Montréal, in collaboration with the Research and Development division of the Montreal Botanical Garden, hired nearly a dozen professors and a handful of botanists. In March 1996, the IRBV’s newly renovated offices and research laboratories were inaugurated along with the Botanical Garden’s new Reception Centre. The creation of the IRBV encouraged the governments of Canada and Quebec, as well as the City of Montreal, to each contribute from 20 to 30 million dollars to these major renovations. The Université de Montréal was another major contributor.
An initiative by several IRBV researchers resulted in the creation of the Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre in 2011. This world-class centre of excellence in biodiversity research, conservation and training is located in a new building designed according to LEED green building standards on the grounds of the Montreal Botanical Garden. The Centre is a repository of major Quebec collections of plants, insects and fungi. Its cutting-edge laboratories provide a stimulating work environment to over 30 research scientists and students passionately involved in the discovery and preservation of the natural heritage of Quebec, Canada and the planet. Displays and activities in the exhibition hall bring alive key issues in biodiversity for the general public. The Government of Quebec and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation contributed over 15 million dollars to the development of the Centre.
The IRBV and the Biodiversity Centre benefit considerably from the on-going partnership between the Montreal Botanical Garden and the Université de Montréal. The world-renowned Montreal Botanical Garden attracts over one million visitors each year, while the Université de Montréal is the largest French-language university in North America. Through the Botanical Garden, the Université de Montréal has access to significant collections of living plants and well-equipped greenhouses, and broadens public awareness of its role in higher education and research. Université de Montréal researchers contribute scientific expertise to the management and development of the Botanical Garden’s collections.