We all know travel broadens our vision and stimulates our thinking… but what sort of voyage was it that inspired Charles Darwin to construct his theory of evolution that shook the 19th century world’s beliefs to their core ?
A major exhibition coming to the Australian National Maritime Museum takes you with him on HMS Beagle, introduces you to the people who sailed with him and shows you what they saw.
And it places the Beagle voyage in the context of other early 19th century exploratory expeditions, revealing the sense of wonder they experienced as the natural world opened up to them.
The Australian National Maritime Museum has assembled the exhibition Charles Darwin – Voyages and ideas that shook the world to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of his most famous work On the Origin of Species.
And to coincide with the opening of the exhibition, the museum is combining with Sydney University to present a special two-day symposium (20-21 March) with eminent speakers from universities and other institutions in the UK and Australia.
The exhibition opens with an introduction to HMS Beagle, a small (27.5 metre) survey vessel and an account of its earlier (1826-30) survey expedition to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego under the command of Phillip Parker King.
It then introduces the young Charles Robert Darwin, born12 February 1809, the son of Dr Robert Darwin, a successful Shropshire physician, and Susannah Darwin, daughter of the famous potter Josiah Wedgwood. Charles was the fifth of six children in this well-to-do family.
After unexceptional studies at Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities, Charles in 1831 – still aged only 22 – was invited almost by chance to join the Beagle on its circumnavigation of the globe which took five years to complete.
The voyage would expose him to a variety of environments and plant the genesis of ideas that would explain the evolution of life on earth.