Cornell University Library's Darwin collection

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Rhodes Headlines Cornell University Library’s
Darwin Celebration

Library Partners with Museum of the Earth in Collaborative Exhibition


ITHACA, N.Y. (Feb. 4, 2009) – In celebration of the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, Cornell University Library will stage a major collaborative exhibition. “Charles Darwin: After the Origin explores the scientist’s life and work during the 22 years following the 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species.

Dr. Frank H.T. Rhodes, Darwin scholar and president emeritus of Cornell University, will open the Library’s exhibition with a lecture on Thursday, Feb. 12, at 4:45 p.m. It will be held in Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium in Goldwin Smith Hall, on Cornell’s main campus in Ithaca, N.Y. A reception will follow in the Hirshland Gallery, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, level 2B of the Carl A. Kroch Library. Both events are free and open to the public

“Darwin’s work had a revolutionary impact on all aspects of contemporary thought,” Rhodes said. “Evolutionary theory didn’t just affect the scientific world; its implications reached across the entire social and political landscape of the late 19th century.”

Visiting scholar and curator Sheila Ann Dean has written a book that serves as a companion piece to the exhibition, offering an account of the work Darwin undertook while controversies instigated by the Origin were stirring the Victorian world. She will sign copies of the book, published by Cornell University Library and the Paleontological Research Institution, on Friday, Feb. 13, at the Cornell Store from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Made possible through the generosity of Stephan Loewentheil, JD ’75, the anniversary celebration is built around an exhibition of the documents, rare books, engravings, photographs and artifacts from library and other university collections, as well as rare materials borrowed from private collectors. Treasures on display will include first editions of Darwin’s work, 19th-century natural history illustrations, butterflies and beetles from Cornell's entomology collection and zoological specimens from the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates. The exhibition will remain in Kroch Library’s Hirshland Gallery until Sept. 8, 2009.

“Academic research libraries offer strong support to the sciences today and have a sacred duty to preserve and protect the history of scientific thought,” said Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch university librarian. “The Obama administration’s early emphasis on investing in science makes this exhibition especially timely. One cannot overestimate the impact Darwin has had on scientific research as well as public policy to this day. Cornell University Library’s impressive collection of scientific materials echoes these larger themes.”

The event marks the first time Cornell University Library and the Museum of the Earth at the Paleontological Research Institution, located in Ithaca, have collaborated on a major exhibition. The Museum of the Earth also will host a series of lectures, panel discussions and family-friendly events from Feb. 7-14. The events mark Darwin Day 2009, an annual international celebration recognizing the scientist’s Feb. 12 birthday.

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About Cornell University Library
One of the leading academic research libraries in the United States, Cornell University Library is a highly valued partner in teaching, research and learning at Cornell University. The Library offers cutting-edge programs and a full spectrum of services, rare books and manuscripts and a growing network of digital resources. The Library’s outstanding collections – from medieval manuscripts to hip hop and from ancient Chinese texts to comic books – preserve the past and pave the way for future scholarship. To learn more about Cornell University Library, visit the Library Web site.

Charles Darwin: After the Origin