Brilliant Darwin exhibit at ROM


(Canscene) — The Royal Ontario Museum’s major spring exhibit, titled Darwin the Evolution of Revolution gives us a detailed and intimate picture of a great man’s life and work.

Charles Darwin whose theory of evolution shook the scientific world, still excites public debate between, on one side, fundamentalists and creationists and on the other those who believe in the ordered evolution of animals and man over millions of years rather than the mere 6000 years between the Biblical account of the Garden of Eden and the present; this enlightened group includes the religious as well as freethinkers.

Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution among animals and plants in The Origin of Species in 1859 and followed it up with The Descent of Man in 1871. The first, a runaway best-seller came 23 years after Darwin returned to England from a five-year voyage as resident naturalist aboard HMS Beagle, a British Navy research vessel on a geographic mission. Darwin left England with the thought that on return he’d enter the clergy but he came back with a burning desire to know as much as he could of the natural history o the world around him. In 1839 he published his memoirs of this journey in The Voyage of the Beagle.

The exhibit takes us through Darwin’s life from childhood to deathbed. Scorned by his father but encouraged by his grandparents Josiah Wedgewood and Erasmus Darwin he found the courage to pursue his interests.

The Beagle had taken him to the mysterious Galapagos Islands where the bizarre agglomeration of flora and fauna first ignited a spark in Darwin that would lead to his theory. .At the ROM, live iguanas and giant tortoises are still startling enough in their appearance to convey Darwin’s amazement.

We learn how he shared a tiny cabin with two ship’s officers on a vessel only 30 metres in length. A lifesize replica of the foredeck, complete with steering wheel stands in front of a projected seascape with rolling waves.
There’s a replica of Darwin’s study at his home which includes one of his personal microscopes. And to accent the humanity of the scientist, we learn of his grief at the death of a son.

The Darwin exhibit is a must for all who respect the heights to which the human mind, unhampered by the baggage of tradition and superstition, can climb. All the more reason to comment on the reluctance of large corporations to sponsor this exhibit, chilled no doubt by the thought of offending those who still believe the earth is only 6000 years old. The Humanist Association of Canada. the United Church Observer, Blyth Academy and ZINC Research have, to their credit, supported Darwin, the Evolution of Revolution which runs until August 4.

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