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Darwin: The Evolution Revolution.

Darwin: The Evolution Revolution Saturday, March 8, 2008, to Monday, August 4, 2008

Charles Darwin's curiosity, observations, and discoveries nearly 150 years ago have forever changed our understanding of the origin and nature of all species, including our own. This wide-ranging exploration of Darwin's life and work is presented in the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, the first Canadian venue to host the show during its international tour. It is the most in-depth exhibition ever assembled on the highly original thinker.

Darwin: The Evolution Revolution features the most complete collection of specimens, artifacts, manuscripts, and memorabilia related to Darwin (1809-1882), offering visitors a host of insightful perspectives on his extraordinary life and ideas. Renowned for his groundbreaking 1859 volume, On the Origin of Species, Darwin is also acclaimed for his work as a botanist, geologist, and naturalist. In showcasing the evidence that led him to realize that all life has evolved according to natural laws, the exhibition illustrates not only the impact Darwin's work had on science and society in his own time but its continuing relevance in the 21st century.

Before Darwin formulated his thoughts on the subject, advanced thinkers of the 18th century had speculated about evolution but did not understand how it worked. Natural science was aligned with the biblical story of creation. While naturalists had amassed collections by 1800, classifying species was haphazard, with no concept that they were genealogically related. It was Darwin, through his detailed observations of nature, who proposed natural selection as the mechanism by which evolution worked.

"One exciting aspect of this exhibition is that it allows us to take the same voyage of discovery as Darwin," says Chris Darling, curator of the show during its ROM engagement. "We are at his side as he ponders geology, observes living plants and animals, and collects specimens during his voyage on the Beagle. We are also there when he returns home and carefully develops and refines his ideas while struggling with issues of family, ill health, and insecurity."

Darwin called his five-year around-the-world voyage as ship naturalist the most pivotal event in his life. During that time he observed the patterns in nature that kindled his ideas about evolution. Visitors can see some of the wonders Darwin saw in South America and the Galapagos Islands, including live specimens of iguanas and frogs. And, for the first time, specimens collected by Darwin himself, including beetles, butterflies, moths, bugs, and fossils, are on display.

Knowing that his revolutionary ideas would shake British society to its core, Darwin kept his "Essay" secret for nearly two decades. Finally in 1859, when he published his pioneering tome, it became an instant bestseller.

The personal aspect of Darwin's life is also explored in the exhibition. Visitors can see some of his personal posessions, such as his pistol and his Bible. A video shot at Darwin's beloved Down House is narrated by Randal Keynes, Darwin's great-great-grandson, who in another audio installation reads a selection from Darwin's writings and letters.

Over time, science has overwhelmingly supported Darwin's ideas. In another video, contemporary scientists and theologians discuss the importance of Darwin's discoveries.

Thoughout his life Darwin was a passionate explorer of the world around him and he found in nature awe and wonder--as well as the evidence for his theories. "There is a grandeur in this view of life," he wrote, " .. endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved."

Come see for yourself how that grand view evolved in the mind of this pioneering thinker.

Darwin: The Evolution Revolution is mounted in cooperation with English Heritage, the organization that administers Down House, Darwin's home; the Natural History Museum, London; Cambridge University, one of the primary repositories of Darwin's writings; and some of Darwin's living descendants.

Organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York, in collaboration with the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; the Museum of Science, Boston; The Field Museum, Chicago; and the Natural History Museum, London.

Beyond the Exhibition n Family Activity Area Hands-on activities, offered in three distinct areas--The Ship, The Island, and The Study--are supervised by ROM facilitators and range from knot-tying aboard the HMS Beagle to bug sorting in Darwin's study. Touchable real specimens, realistic film projections, and exciting wearable costumes enhance the Darwin experience. n Shop

A special shop offers Darwin-inspired merchandise. n Guided Tours Docents offer guided tours of Darwin: The Evolution Revolution at regularly scheduled times throughout its engagement.
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Title Annotation:Featured Exhibition
Publication:ROM Magazine
Date:Mar 22, 2008
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