Museum unveils plaque for Darwin's birthday

12 February 2009

Celebrations for the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin were held at the Natural History Museum yesterday, including the unveiling of a new plaque on the magnificent marble Darwin statue.

The Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP unveils the plaque on the Darwin statue at top of stairs

Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP unveils a plaque on the Darwin statue, at top of stairs

The Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP, Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, unveiled the plaque at a special birthday party to honour one of the greatest scientists of all time.

The plaque displays a Darwin quote:

‘Freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds, which follows from the advance of science.’

The 2.2-tonne Darwin statue was moved into central position, at the top of the main staircase in the Central Hall, last May. This was in time for Darwin200, the nationwide programme of events taking place in 2008-2009 around the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth.

Lord Melvin Bragg and Bob Bloomfield attend Darwin's 200th birthday celebrations

Lord Melvin Bragg and Bob Bloomfield (Head of Innovations and Special Projects at the Museum)

Hundreds of people attended the birthday party, hosted by the Natural History Museum Director, Mike Dixon, and Lord Melvyn Bragg gave a speech.

During the day there were films, gallery characters and talks and even delicious pea soup based on a recipe from Darwin’s wife Emma, on sale in the Museum’s restaurant.

Revolutionary theory

Darwin’s ideas and theories changed the way we look at the natural world, how we study it, and how we see our place within it.

A special cake for Darwin's 200th birthday

A special cake for Darwin's 200th birthday

Darwin spent years putting the details of his theory of evolution by natural selection into the On the Origin of Species publication. Published 150 years ago, it provoked outrage from some members of the Church of England but quickly became a bestseller.

More Darwin events
Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

If you missed the celebrations, don’t worry, the blockbuster Darwin exhibition is running at the Natural History Museum until 19 April. It’s the biggest ever exhibition about Charles Darwin and has received great reviews.

There are around 15,000 Darwin specimens looked after by the Natural History Museum, some of which you can see in the galleries, such as his important mockingbirds, on display in the Darwin exhibition.

And events in the UK continue throughout the year with Darwin200’s national programme of activities.

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