The University Library, West Road, Cambridge
01223 333000 / www.lib.cam.ac.uk/exhibitions/Darwin/
6th July – 23rd December 2009 (Closed 31st August and 14th – 19th September inclusive)
Open: weekdays, 9:00–18:00; Saturday, 9:00–16:30. Closed on Sunday
Cambridge University Library houses the world’s major archive of Darwin manuscripts, books and letters. This exhibition explores the Beagle voyage as a pivotal experience in Darwin’s life; his journey was born out of his studies at Cambridge, and his specimens and notes were sent back to Cambridge and disseminated from there. The exhibition will reunite manuscripts and specimens from the University’s collections, many of them not seen in public since the voyage, and show how Darwin’s experiences on the Beagle played an essential role in the formulation of his theories throughout the rest of his life. The exhibition will be coordinated with temporary and permanent exhibitions elsewhere in the University, and together these will provide an unparalleled opportunity to explore Darwin’s life and work.
The exhibits include: the letter that first offered the 22-year-old Darwin a place on board; field notes and specimen lists, together with some of the plant, animal and mineral specimens they describe; geological maps and cross-sections; a detailed scale model of the Beagle herself; contemporary sketches made by the Beagle’s artist, Conrad Martens, and some of the books that Darwin took on the voyage with him and kept for the rest of his life. The title for the exhibition comes from an inscription inside one of these books, given to Darwin by the University Professor of Botany, John Stevens Henslow, shortly before the Beagle sailed: “J. S. Henslow to his friend C. Darwin on his departure from England upon a voyage round the World”.