To celebrate the 150th anniversary this autumn of the publication of Darwins seminal book On the Origin of Species, The Manchester Museum
presents Charles Darwin: evolution of a scientist. Combining large-scale illustrations in a graphic-novel style, designed by artist Chrissie Morgan, with fantastic objects --- many collected and studied by Darwin himself --- this exhibition showcases Darwin in a way he has never been seen before. It offers a modern take on Darwins published work promising to be the highlight of the Museums year-long Darwin extravaganza.
Charles Darwins development of the theory of evolution by natural selection has been described as the single best idea that anyone has ever had. Confirmed by science, it forms the basis of biology and medicine today. Charles Darwin: evolution of a scientist will uncover the man behind this idea.
Visitors will discover key moments in the development of Darwins career, from a boy obsessed with nature to radical thinker. Graphic-novel style illustrations alongside Darwins own words and spectacular specimens --- some collected by Darwin on his legendary voyage on the Beagle (1831-36) --- bring the exhibition to life.
Taking viewers on a journey that explores the development of his career, the different scenes will present Darwins work and ideas. They will include moments from his early childhood and life as a student; his legendary voyage on the Beagle; an investigation of his working methods and the publication of his ideas in On the Origin of Species.
Some of the objects featured in Charles Darwin: evolution of a scientist include: the sextant he used to navigate with and carried in his pocket throughout the voyage of the Beagle; letters he wrote about insect-eating plants; pigeons he bred and collected; corals he collected from the Indian Ocean; packets of moss he collected in Tierra del Fuego in 1833, which were rediscovered in the Museums collection earlier this year; a tiny finch he collected on the Galapagos Islands and hundreds of specimens from the Museums collection, including a giant tortoise from the Galapagos Islands. Manchesters own links to evolution, including the story of the Peppered Moth, which rapidly evolved into a dark form to camouflage itself against Manchesters sooty buildings in the industrial revolution, will also be showcased.
Curator of Zoology, Henry McGhie commented: Charles Darwin is most familiar to us as an old man with a long flowing beard. Through Charles Darwin: evolution of a scientist, we wanted to communicate more about Darwin as a person, at the time when he was developing his ideas and to explore just what his ideas mean to us today. Working closely with our colleagues throughout The University of Manchester and with artist Chrissie Morgan, we have reimagined Darwins world down to the minute detail of the flowers and butterfly species that he would have seen.
To further examine Darwins impact on science and society, a packed events programme involving guest speakers from across The University of Manchester will take place throughout the exhibition. Events will range from talks on the latest scientific research in evolution and medicine to explorations of the misapplication and abuse of Darwins ideas.
The Manchester Museum has a number of links to Darwins work and ideas. The Museum owes its existence to Victorian scientist Thomas Huxley, popularly known as 'Darwin's Bulldog'. Many of the objects on display in the exhibition have been sourced from the Museums own collection. Others are on loan from the Natural History Museum, World Museum Liverpool, Royal Geographical Society, British Geological Survey and John Rylands Library.
Darwin: evolution of a scientist runs from 3rd October 2009 30th August 2010 for more information visit www.manchester.museum.ac.uk/whatson/exhibitions/darwinfestival