Natural History Museum to open Wallace Discovery Trail

By Culture24 Reporter | 17 June 2013

An assembled menagerie of exotic toucans, birds of paradise, reptiles and insects, collected by natural selection co-discoverer Alfred Russel Wallace during his famed 19th century cross-planet journeys, will go on display for the first time in a trail dedicated to the explorer this summer.

A photo of various types of colourful butterfly
© Natural History Museum
Watercolours, drawings, a portrait by comedian and Wallace admirer Bill Bailey and an adult orang-utan – likely to be the largest of all the specimens he brought back to Britain – feature alongside the tools of his globetrotting trade, including his telescope and sextant.

“Although Wallace was one of the most famous scientists of his era, he has largely been forgotten,” says Dr George Beccaloni, a Wallace expert who has curated the trail at the Natural History Museum as part of this year’s Wallace100 celebrations.

“His travels were funded by the sale of animal specimens he collected – a selection of some of the most spectacular of these will be on display.

“He achieved his goal and discovered the process of evolution by natural selection while in Indonesia in 1858, a scientific breakthrough that is considered to be one of the most important ever made by anyone.

“This trail will help to remind people of his extraordinary life and many great achievements.”

The campaign marks the centenary of the death of a brilliant naturalist. Wallace worked closely with Charles Darwin on the selection theory, but his notes on animal diversity in the Amazon and Asia helped him draw his evolutionary conclusion independently.

  • The Wallace Discovery Trail opens at the Natural History Museum on July 1 2013.

More pictures:

A photo of a stuffed orang-utan carrying a stick
© Natural History Museum
An image of an oil painting of a 19th century man
© Natural History Museum
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