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Legacies of Galton: centenary programme at UCL

28 March 2011

2011 is the 100th anniversary of the death of Francis Galton, the “father of eugenics” and a key figure in the history of science and of UCL.

The Galton Collection, the Petrie Museum and UCL Special Collections are marking the centenary of Galton, an often controversial academic, with a number of exhibitions over the year – including the unveiling of a recently discovered photograph of Galton on his deathbed.

Galton portrait


Two exhibitions use the superb resources of the Galton Collection and UCL’s Special Collections to explore the historical content of Galton’s life and work.

This year also marks the beginning of a major project to digitise the Galton archive and collection with a view to making the material accessible to the public. Preparatory work will begin in 2011 as part of a programme generously supported by the Wellcome Trust.

An Enquiring Mind: Francis Galton 1822-1911

UCL Main Library, Wilkins Building: now - December 2011.

From baby hair to death mask, exhibits from the Galton Papers held by UCL Special Collections and the Galton Collection display Francis Galton’s life, many diverse interests, investigations and associations. His handprint, hand writing, travel journals, family photographs, statistics from his laboratory, a stuffed wallet, all combine to illustrate the timeline of his life. This exhibition also includes an exciting new find of a photograph of Galton on his deathbed, which will soon enter the Galton Collection. Gallery talks on Galton by a leading UCL academic will also be offered (times to be advertised).

Typecast: Flinders Petrie and Francis Galton

Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology: 29 March – 22 December 2011

In 1886 Francis Galton commissioned Flinders Petrie to take photographs of different ‘racial types’ on monuments from Ancient Egypt. This was part of Galton’s research into human and racial difference as well as a lifelong friendship and influence between Galton and Petrie. This exhibition displays some of those photographs and explores their contentious legacies in the Petrie Museum’s collection, examining and inviting comment on Galton, Petrie and the impact of racial theory on archaeology.

Image: A portrait of Francis Galton in profile aged 66 (c. 1888). Credit: Galton Collection.

Media contact: Clare Ryan

Click on the player below to see a slideshow of objects and photographs from the exhibitions. Select ‘show info’ for captions.