Darwin’s Ancestors Exhibition to Open Thursday, Oct. 22, With Lecture on Early Geneticists

Posted October 15th, 2009 at 11:48 am.


Cartoon from Punch's almanac for 1882

The Bryn Mawr College Library will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of his landmark book On the Origin of Species with its new exhibition, Darwin’s Ancestors: Tracing the Origins of the “Origin of Species,” which will run through February 2010 in the Class of 1912 Rare Book Room in Canaday Library.

The exhibition will open on Thursday, Oct. 22, with a lecture by Swarthmore College Professor of Biology Scott Gilbert, titled “Disagreements Among Friends: How T. H. Morgan and E. B. Wilson’s Agreeing to Disagree Helped Establish Genetics and the Modern Synthesis.” Wilson was Bryn Mawr’s first biology professor and Morgan the second, and both played prominent roles in the international debates over evolution during the first half of the 20th century. The lecture will be at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22,  in Carpenter Library 21.

Darwin’s Ancestors will examine the development of natural history from the mid-16th century, when the field was transformed by the appearance of strange new plants and animals brought to Europe from Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Over the following 300 years, amateur and professional scientists enthusiastically collected, described, and classified the natural world both at home and abroad, and looked for ways of understanding the relationships among species. The exhibition will feature the work of many of the key collectors, classifiers, and theorists, from Leonhart Fuchs and Conrad Gesner in the early period, through John Ray and Linnaeus in the late 17th and 18th centuries, to Alexander von Humboldt, Charles Lyell, and Darwin himself in the 19th century.

The curators of the Bryn Mawr exhibition are Angelique Wille, a graduate student in the history of art; Marybeth Matlack, a senior medieval-studies major, and Eric Pumroy, director of library collections.

Darwin’s Ancestors: Tracing the Origins of the “Origin of Species” is sponsored by the Friends of the Library. The show is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For additional information, please contact the Library’s Special Collections Department: (610) 526-6576 or SpecColl@brynmawr.edu.

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