LUGARES MAGAZINE Nro. 66
Page. 88 - 89
By: Rossana Acquasanta
Pictures: Nestor Paz
FUNDACION MIGUEL LILLO
It all began with the brilliant idea of one very wise man, Miguel Lillo, who on one hectare of land belonging to the family estate created what is now a botanical garden with numerous indigenous species.
Today in San Miguel de Tucumán, thanks to his initiative, anyone can appreciate the legacy left by this great man. The Fundación Lillo, whose directors work ad honorem, includes the botanical gardens, the Museo Pedagogico de Ciencias Naturales inaugurated in 1970, through whose doors pass 12,000 children every year, and an amazing library holding Lillo's private collection of 11,000 volumes and which now comprises a total of over 130,000 books. The core of the library is undoubtedly the Humboldt collection with its 32 volumes, one of only seven existing in the entire world today and of which only two are complete, the one here and another in France.
The absolute stars being the Genera & Especies that cover geology, zoology and botanical studies. Edited in 1943 with coloured illustrations, these books are truly remarkable. The Fundación Lillo also offers a complete collection of the El Orden newspaper between 1884 -and World War II, the most important compilation of works on herbs in South America; 700,000 volumes to be precise, and thirty thousand square metres of laboratory, with a geo-biological information centre, and a reference centre for lacto-bacillus...
Miguel Lillo held no university degrees, but this did not prevent him from receiving an honorary Honoris Causa degree. He was a self-taught researcher, who lived in absolute austerity and died poor but surrounded by erudition. His tomb lies in the garden, guarded by representations of Mother Nature together with the ruins of what was once his family home. He is not to be forgotten.
In the year 2000 the Fundación obtained its legal status. None of those involved in the day to day work of this great universe has any materialistic ambitions, they are working with a passion to carry out their mission: that of maintaining and developing the work started by Lillo. Their curiosity and dedication are enough to overcome the hardships involved in what can be a very challenging goal. The spirit of scientific inquisitiveness that marked the existence of Miguel Lillo, lives on. Thanks to him, Argentina has an amazing illustrated "inventory" of indigenous plants.