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NLM Opens Darwin Exhibition, "Rewriting the Book of Nature"

Fall Film Series and October 1, 2009 Symposium Will Also Commemorate Scientist's 200th Birthday

Charles Darwin On February 12, 1809, Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England. Fifty years later, on November 22, 1859, Darwin's On the Origin of Species, one of the most influential scientific books ever written, went on sale to the public. Radical in sweep, Darwin's theory of naturally innovating and endlessly changing webs of life laid bare the deep connections within the living world. Darwin rewrote the book of nature and forced us to rethink humankind's own place within it. One hundred and 50 years later, we still struggle to comprehend the world that Darwin made.

Title page of Origin of Species To mark the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his groundbreaking work, the National Library of Medicine, in collaboration with the Office of NIH History, presents a small exhibition, "Rewriting the Book of Nature: Charles Darwin & the Rise of Evolutionary Theory." The public is invited to this thought-provoking display, which includes a rare first edition of On the Origin of Species and other important books by Darwin, Darwin photos and letters, and works by the great naturalist's predecessors, contemporaries and successors.

The exhibition, inside and outside the NLM History of Medicine Division Reading Room, Building 38, first floor, runs from February 9, 2009 to January 15, 2010. All are welcome to visit, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays, except federal holidays.

Directions, security, parking, etc.: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/about/visitus.html.

For more information: Michael Sappol, sappolm@mail.nih.gov, 301.594.0348.

SAVE THE DATES: DARWIN FILM SERIES AND SYMPOSIUM

September 16 - October 28, 2009 (Wednesdays, Noon & 6:00 PM), the National Library of Medicine, Lister Hill Auditorium, Building 38A, first floor: Motion Picture Evolution a film series devoted to evolutionary movies and television programs. For over 100 years, filmmakers have imaginatively responded to the implications of evolutionary theory. This 7-week film series will show: evolutionary monsters; evolutionary morality and bestiality; evolutionary degeneration, extinction and perfection; clashes between evolutionary theory and religious belief; human meddling with the "natural" course of evolution; and lots of scientists, dinosaurs, supermen and cavemen! For complete film schedule, go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/news/filmseries.html.

For more information: Michael Sappol, sappolm@mail.nih.gov, 301.594.0348.

Archaeopteryx October 1, 2009, the National Library of Medicine, Lister Hill Auditorium, Building 38A, first floor: "Finished Proofs?", a symposium to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species (1859). Leading historians and scientists will explore changing and contested understandings of Darwinian theory over the last 150 years.

For more information: David Cantor, cantord@mail.nih.gov, 301.402.8915.











Images, from top to bottom:

  • Charles Darwin around the time of the writing of On the Origin of Species, 1850s. From Charles Darwin, The Foundations of the Origin of Species, Two Essays Written in 1842 and 1844, ed. by Francis Darwin. Cambridge [Eng.] University Press, 1909. Opposite title page. Rare Book Collection, National Library of Medicine.
  • Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (London: John Murray, 1859), title page. Rare Book Collection, National Library of Medicine.
  • Archaeopteryx. In George J. Romanes, Darwinism Illustrated; Wood-Engravings Explanatory of the Theory of Evolution. Chicago: The Open Court Publishing Company, 1892, p. 48. Rare Book Collection, National Library of Medicine.

Canadian-born physiologist George Romanes (1848-1888) extended evolutionary theory to the development of human intelligence, while tirelessly writing and speaking to public audiences. A younger friend and colleague of Darwin, he wrote Darwinism Illustrated to visually explain to the lay public key evolutionary principles. This illustration of the Archaeopteryx showed the dinosaur/bird, whose fossils had first been described in 1861, and which played a significant role in the evolution debates.

For these and other images in high resolution, and for other press-related inquiries, please contact the NLM Office of Communications & Public Information, publicinfo@mail.nlm.nih.gov, 301.496.6308.