7 April 2008

New in New York: Darwin's Garden, An Evoluntionary Adventure

If you are anywhere even remotely close to New York City, get ye to the new exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden, Darwin's Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure. It is curated by none other than David Kohn, one of the world's foremost Darwin scholars. The exhibition includes a recreation of Darwin's garden at Down House in England and his wonderful "weed garden" experiment, but...
The cornerstone of the Garden-wide show is an exhibition of Charles Darwin's original manuscripts, field notebooks, plant collections, and other historical documents chronicling Darwin's progression from a boy with an interest in plants to an evolutionary botanist who revolutionized the world's view of life.

The exhibition's more than 60 rare books and objects, starting with a portrait of him as a young boy holding a plant, tell the story of Darwin's life-long relationship with plants. A facsimile of a herbarium specimen he collected as a student represents, in part, his early influences and his studies at Cambridge University. Sketches of flowers and journal entries such as his exuberant reaction upon first encountering a tropical forest bring to life his five-year voyage on the HMS Beagle to the Galápagos and other lands,as his theories of natural selection and evolution began taking shape.

Darwin's rough drawing of a tree of life under the words "I think" shows his visualization of the interconnection of species, which led to the writing of his seminal work, On the Origin of Species. His Experiment Book contains several of his botanical experiments, color photographs, and engravings. It highlights Darwin's exhaustive plant observations and investigations in his later years on plant sexuality (the role of flowers, including pollination and co-evolution of plants and their pollinators) and sensitivity (how plants respond to touch, light, gravity, and chemical substances).
And for a double dose of Darwin, why not visit the exhibition on May 6th or 8th and take the symposium, Darwin: 21st Century Perspectives.

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