Museo Nacional de Costa Rica
Henri Pitter

Teacher Pitter

Henri Pittier
He was born August 13th, 1857 in Bex, a mountain area at the east of Switzerland, close to France.  He grew outdoors between mountains and landscapes which caught Henri Pitter’s eye and made him want to know the vast world of nature.  He did for 93 years.

He concluded his Forestry studies in Switzerland and in Jena University (Germany), where he concluded his studies on Natural Science.  He got a Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1885.  He worked as a natural science teacher in Château d'Oex School and in the Geography University department at Lausanne University in Switzerland.

He came to Costa Rica in 1887, when he was 30 years old.  According to Paul Stanley, on his biography on Pitter, during those years the education authorities, along with Mauro Fernández and Ricardo Jiménez, decided to establish a modern educational system, reason why the looked for teachers and scientists in Switzerland, well known for their science and teaching techniques. They invited Henri Pitter and he arrived to Costa Rica November 27th, 1887.

Ana Lucía Valerio tells to Brenesia magazine that when Pitter arrived to Costa Rica he taught at Liceo de Costa Rica.  In April 1888 he created the National Meteorological Institute and he directed the Geographic Physics Institute, which administrated the current National Herbarium.

Along with Pablo Biolley,Adolfo Tonduz and Anastasio Alfaro, he took his first steps on the National Museum.  His investigations on Costa Rican flora were the starting point for the creation of the investigation, education and exhibition center, what we know today as the Museum.

Pitter traveled to Washington in 1905, where he worked in the Botanic area for the Agriculture Department.  He continued working on the collections he did in Costa Rica.  In 1907 he published “Primitae Flora Costaricencis”, as a result of that investigation.

In 1919 he settled in the External Relations Ministry in Venezuela.  At age 62 he began his new job as a botanist, conservationist, phyto-geographer and teacher.  According to the Venezuela Center of Science, Technology and Environmental Education, one of the most important achievements was the creation of the National Park under his name, for protecting one of the few Cloudy Jungles from Cordillera de la Costa, which settled the foundations for the later creation of the National System of Protected Areas of Venezuela.

Henri Pitter passed away in Caracas, January 27th, 1950.  He wrote about 264 publications in different magazines on flora and fauna.  He also wrote ethnographic, geographic and indigene linguistic studies in Central America and Colombia, among others.