Darwin


Darwin, the most in-depth exhibition ever mounted on this highly original naturalist and his theory of evolution, will remain on view at the Museum through May 29, 2006. It will offer visitors a comprehensive, engaging exploration of the life and times of Charles Darwin, whose discoveries, observations, and insights in the igth century forever changed the perception of the origin and nature of our own species and launched-and remain central to-modem biological science. Darwin is the latest in a series of exhibitions the Museum has developed on great thinkers, explorers, and scientists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Ernest Shackleton, and Albert Einstein.

"This exhibition features the greatest collection of Darwin artifacts, specimens, and memorabilia ever assembled," said Niles Eldredge, Curator in the Museum's Division of Paleontology and curator of Darwin. "We have specimens Darwin collected on the Beagle reunited for the first time since the 18305 with some of his diaries full of notes and analyses of them. We will have critical correspondence, notebooks, and manuscripts revealing the development of Darwin's evolutionary ideas and his agony as he kept his ideas secret from a sure-to-be disapproving public for 20 years."

Visitors will learn how Darwin arrived at the conclusion-a heretical one at the time-that life on Earth is not static, but changing, and how his theory of natural selection offered a mechanism to explain the production of the amazing diversity of life on Earth. These insights continue to have enormous relevance and importance today as Museum scientists and their colleagues worldwide apply concepts derived from his work to global inventories of life, conservation biology, reconstruction of the evolutionary Tree of Life, and the treatment of diseases ranging from AIDS to SARS.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

* An introduction to Darwin, the man, as well as the significance of his thinking at the time of its emergence and continuing through today. This section features the Darwin family magnifying glass, which the young naturalist likely used to closely examine his surroundings with the habitual curiosity that shaped his life.

* Some of the wonders Darwin witnessed on his five-year voyage on the HMS Beagle, which he called the most important event in his life. Visitors will see live Galapagos tortoises and an Argentinian horned frog, reminiscent of the species Darwin studied on his journey. Also on display will be fossils and mounted specimens of the uniquely American modern animal groups he saw, along with actual specimens he collected and some personal items he took with him on the voyage, including his pistol and his Bible.

* A video biography of Darwin, narrated by his great-great-grandson Randal Keynes, author of Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution, which will introduce visitors to the political, social, and scientific climates of igth-century England. …

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