UCL News


Launch of Darwin exhibition and refurbished library space

29 October 2008

Professor Steve Jones (UCL Biology) this week gave a talk on Darwin and evolution at an event to launch UCL's new Darwin exhibition, and to formally mark the refurbishment of the South Junction library.

Charles Darwin

Introduced by the Provost and speaking to a packed audience in the UCL Flaxman Gallery, Professor Jones explained why in his view, Darwin's theory of evolution made human beings all the more remarkable and distinctly human - rather than relegating them to being "just another ape" as some of Darwin's detractors have claimed.

Dr Paul Ayris, Director of Library Services, then spoke about the recent refurbishment of South Junction of the UCL Main Library, which was made possible through a £350,000 grant by the Wolfson RLUK Library Programme, which part funded the refurbishment. The programme is administered by RLUK (Research Libraries UK) but funding is provided by the Wolfson Foundation, and Dr Ayris thanked Lord and Lady Wolfson for their support.

After the talks, visitors had a chance to look more closely at the Darwin exhibition (which includes a part of the first manuscript of 'On the origin of species') and to tour the refurbished library space, which is already popular with students taking advantage of the new facilities. The spaces now provide specialised reading rooms for Economics and for Art with Art History.

About the Darwin exhibition
UCL Library Services is displaying an exhibition of items from its Special Collections in honour of Charles Darwin, who lived in a house on the site now occupied by UCL's Darwin Building from 1839-1842, just over two years after his return from HMS Beagle's second voyage.

The materials selected for this exhibition illustrate Darwin's life, work  and the influence of his ideas about inheritance and evolution on his contemporaries and successors, including eminent UCL people.

UCL's long association with the development of genetics stems from this period, and several exhibits come from the personal libraries and papers, held by Library Services, of Sir Francis Galton, Darwin's cousin, and Karl Pearson, first Galton Professor of Eugenics.

The exhibition will be on display in the Main Library until early 2009, the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth.

It's free to enter, and a digital version of the exhibition will be permanently available through the Library's Exhibitions Online Web site, including a recording of Professor Jones' speech at the opening.

Use the links at the top of the article to find out more about UCL Special Collections and UCL Library Services.