The University Museum of Zoology uncovers AR Wallace, The Forgotten Evolutionist

By Culture24 Staff | 12 October 2009
a collection of feathers with labels attatched to them

Courtesy University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Exhibition: AR Wallace – The Forgotten Evolutionist, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge, November 5 – February 8 2009

This year sees the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of The Species by Charles Darwin, but the University Museum of Zoology in Cambridge is celebrating the work of one of his forgotten contemporaries, evolutionist AR Wallace.

In 1858 both Wallace and Darwin gave the first public readings of their papers on Natural Selection, enjoying equal recognition as a result.

Artist Fred Langford Edwards has carried out a 30-month research project to promote the impact Wallace had as a major contributor to the theories of Natural Selection and evolution.

The project has taken Fred to many university and public collections of Natural History, as well as on two extended visits to the Amazon Basin and the Malay Archipelago.

During his research Fred visited many places off the beaten track, including the small island of Mesa, which is only three hectares in size and two hours passage out of Labuan Bajo.

"My motive to stay off the island grew from my experience of my travels and research to date in the archipelago," said Fred.

"All the places I had visited in Indonesia were highly developed, westernised and much-changed from the time of ARW's travels in the mid-19th century.

"The island of Mesa, whilst certainly influenced by the process of modernisation, has changed less than most. It possibly possesses the vestiges of a culture, which would be familiar to Wallace."

Artefacts from Wallace's original voyage have been loaned to the museum to accompany the exhibition. For more information visit the Museum's website.

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