Brilliant biologist D'Arcy Thompson inspires new art collection at University of Dundee

By Culture24 Reporter | 12 January 2012
A black and white photo of a bearded scientist from a century ago
D'Arcy Thompson continues to inspire in Dundee and beyond
D'Arcy Thompson, the groundbreaking polymath who founded one of the UK’s finest zoology museums as the first Professor of Biology at the University of Dundee more than a century ago, will be honoured with a collection of art inspired by him at the institution.

The University's Collections will host exhibitions and events devoted to the discoveries of the author of On Growth and Form, a 1917 tome of morphological hypotheses which remains revered by modern-day scientists for its style and insights.

It is the final venue to win £100,000 from the Art Fund’s RENEW programme, a scheme offering £600,000 for new displays at six domestic museums.

"D'Arcy was a brilliant polymath whose work laid the foundations for the science of biomathematics," said Curator Matthew Jarron.

"He also had an extraordinary influence on art and design that continues to this day.

"Many famous artists such as Henry Moore, Richard Hamilton and Jackson Pollock drew on his work, and we're keen to get today's artists using his surviving collection in our Zoology Museum as a further source of inspiration."

In 2010, the university collaborated with St Andrews University – where Thompson spent 31 years as Chair of Natural History – for a series of events honouring the 150th anniversary of his birth.

His zoology building was demolished during the 1950s, but was reincarnated at the university in 2008.

Archives and museums at both universities hold comprehensive collections dedicated to Thompson, and groups including Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee Science Centre and London's Slade School of Fine Art will participate in the new project.
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