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Celebrating Darwin 200
12 Feb 09
Today in 1809 the naturalist Charles Darwin was born. As part of celebrations for the ‘Darwin 200’ anniversary a range of special events and activities are taking place at Oxford University including the release of an online version of ‘On The Origin of Species’.
Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection revolutionised how people thought about the natural world. To mark the naturalist’s 200th birthday the Oxford University Museum of Natural History is revisiting the famous 1860 debate on evolution held at the Museum between Thomas Huxley and Samuel Wilberforce, with a conversation between Professor Richard Dawkins and Lord Harries of Pentregarth, and opening a new exhibition based on Darwin’s own words taken from his autobiography.
An online version of a first edition of Darwin’s masterwork, ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection’, is also being made available today through the collaboration between the Bodleian Library and Google. First editions of the book are rare (Oxford University has three in its collections) so the digital format with the whole text of the book, which can be searched in full, ensures that everyone has the chance to appreciate it.
Throughout 2009 the Oxford University Museum of Natural History will stage a series of free events for the public, families and schools to celebrate Darwin’s contribution to science and help explain his ideas to the widest possible audience (see highlights below). Activities will involve anything from getting up close and personal with live reptiles and birds, to finding out why Darwin was so fascinated by beetles and crabs.
The Museum will also be running a competition for secondary schools to design a limestone plinth for a plaque commemorating the 1860 evolution debate, and giving away a free graphic novel, Darwin: A Graphic Biography by Eugene Byrne and Simon Gurr, to visitors (while stocks last). A separate programme of workshops on Darwin and evolution is being run for schools.
As part of the celebrations the Oxford Science Blog is publishing a series of articles exploring the views of Oxford scientists on evolution and Darwin’s legacy. On the OxSciBlog you can also read the strange story of Darwin's lost crabs.
Darwin 200: Oxford highlights:
12 February 2009
Darwin’s 200th birthday celebrations [sold out]
A concert at the Sheldonian Theatre by Oxford Philomusica followed by ‘Huxley and Wilberforce revisited’ a conversation between Professor Richard Dawkins and Lord Harries of Pentregarth at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
Digitized Origin of Species released
An online version of a first edition of Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection’ is made available through a collaboration between the Bodleian Library and Google as part of the Oxford-Google Digitization programme.
12 February-31 December
In His Own Words: a celebration of Darwin
A free public exhibition at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History quoting from Darwin’s autobiography with images of the people, places and creatures he encountered.
16-20 February 12-4pm
Free event at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (OUMNH) for families in which you can learn about Darwin’s discoveries on the Galapagos Islands and make your own blue-footed booby feet.
25 & 26 May 1-4pm
The evolution solution
Family activity at the OUMNH answering questions about evolution including; ‘how did humans stand up for the first time?’ and ‘what happened to the whale’s flippers?’ Includes trails, arts and crafts.
What’s bugging Darwin?
Handle live insects and make your own ‘museum collection’ as part of a free family event at the OUMNH exploring Darwin’s fascination with beetles and crabs.
26-28 October 1-4pm
Find out how Victorian explorers, such as Darwin, braved high seas and tropical diseases in an effort to discover fantastic creatures; free family event at the OUMNH.
Touring exhibition of knitted leftovers from Darwin’s natural history collections comes to the OUMNH.