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Research Councils UK launch Darwin Today exhibition

Visit Research Councils UK website Visit Darwin Today website

9 February 2009

Research Councils UK has launched Darwin Today, a new touring exhibition, developed by BBSRC, that celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his most famous work, On the Origin of Species. The tour starts this month at three venues: the Centre for life in Newcastle, Sensation - the Dundee Science Centre, and at Living Coasts in Torquay.

Darwin Today will be touring throughout this year across the UK, visiting over 25 venues. The exhibition is designed to engage a wide family audience with Darwin’s ideas and to explore how they still influence research and life today, from biology and engineering to the social sciences, arts and humanities. Darwin Today is interactive and invites people to consider how natural selection impacts on everyday life.

For example, the exhibition shows how we use Darwin’s ideas in breeding new crops, in designing robots that can evolve and even in questioning what life might be like on other planets. Darwin Today also encourages people to consider the evolution of language, ideas and social structures as well as phenomena such as mass extinctions, biodiversity and the rise of ‘superbugs’ and new diseases.

Professor Alan Thorpe, speaking for Research Councils UK, said: "Darwin Today brings together evolution research from each of the seven UK Research Councils. The family-friendly displays demonstrate the significant impact that Darwin’s scientific ideas about evolution have had on modern research. We hope that many people have the opportunity to visit Darwin Today and that they enjoy learning more about the relevance of Darwin’s work for the modern world."

The exhibition is accompanied by the Darwin Today website ( which provides event listings, school resources and discussion forums.

The 2009 tour will take the exhibition to a variety of science centres, schools, civic centres and museums across the country. Each of the venues hosting Darwin Today will be running their own Darwin-related events and activities alongside the exhibition, such as group visits, discussion meetings and public lectures.


About Research Councils UK

The seven Research Councils are independent non-departmental public bodies, funded by the Science Budget through the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). They are incorporated by Royal Charter and together manage a research budget of over £2.8 billion a year.

The seven UK Research Councils are:

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
  • Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
  • Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

About Darwin Today

Darwin Today is a Research Councils UK initiative, which is being led by BBSRC. For more information about the exhibition, see:

About Darwin200

Darwin200 was a national programme of events celebrating Charles Darwin’s scientific ideas and their impact around his two hundredth birthday on 12 February 2009. Darwin200 was supported by the Wellcome Trust, the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the British Council.


Patrick Middleton, Head of Engagement

tel: 01793 413368