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vert bar IN THE NEWS, 9th February, 2009

Charles Darwin's Study an exhibition at the National Herbarium

Charles Darwin was born 200 years ago on the 12th February 2009. Academically he was an unremarkable child, but had a passion for natural history. While studying philosophy at Cambridge (1827-1831), and destined for Anglican orders, he became an avid beetle collector. He also attended John Stephen Henslow's lectures on botany and became known as "the man who walks with Henslow".
In August 1831 he accompanied Adam Sedgwick, the Professor of Geology, on his annual field trip to Wales, and learnt the practice of field geology. That same month he was invited to join H.M.S. Beagle as a companion to Captain Robert FitzRoy.
The observations and discoveries he made on the voyage (1832-1836) led to him proposing a radical new theory on the formation of coral atolls, which has proved correct. In addition the discovery of numerous recent fossils gave him an insight into vanished worlds and the fact of evolution. His observations on biogeography, particularly on the Galápagos islands, began a train of thought that was a key step in formulating his theory of Natural Selection as an explanation of how evolution occurred.
He published his most famous book: On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life on the 24th November 1859. This was followed by many other publications detailing plant movements, human emotions, orchids, earthworms, pollination mechanisms, the domestication of animals and insectivorous plants.

DARWIN EVENTS AT THE GARDENS

There are two exhibits at the National Botanic Gardens. One comprises a series of posters in the Visitor Centre, detailing his discoveries, the voyage of the Beagle, his correspondence with David Moore of the National Botanic Gardens, and his home life.

The second is a recreation of Darwin's Study at Down House (below). This second exhibit is in the National Herbarium, and features Darwin surrounded by many manuscripts, artefacts and objects that influenced his life and ideas. Some of the many books he published are also on display.

A poster of Mr. Darwin's Big Idea can also be downloaded at right.

Both these exhibits will be opened on the 12th February 2009, to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. Darwin's Study is only open on weekdays, between 9am and 5pm.