Darwin's statue on the move

23 May 2008

A 2.2-tonne marble statue of Charles Darwin arrives in its new position at the Natural History Museum today.

The statue returns to its original location where it was unveiled in 1885, at the top of the main staircase in the Museum's iconic Central Hall.

This is in preparation for Darwin200, a nationwide programme of events in 2008/9 around the bicentenary of Darwin's birth, celebrating his ideas, impact and influence.

Eight people to move statue
Eight people worked to move the Darwin statue up the main staircase.

Eight people worked to move the Darwin statue up the main staircase.

Moving the Darwin statue took 8 people about 26 hours. The team had to first move a 1-tonne statue of Richard Owen, the Museum's founder, to its new position up on the balcony.

You can watch a time-lapse video of the move by following the link at the bottom of the page.

Statue moves around

The Darwin statue was created by Sir Joseph Boehm and was unveiled on 9 June 1885. In 1927 it was moved to make way for an Indian elephant specimen, and then moved again in 1970 to the North Hall.

The statue's return to its original prime position is in time for the anniversary of Darwin's birth 200 years ago, and for the start of the programme of Darwin200 events.

Theory of evolution
Final preparations are made to the Darwin statue.

Final preparations are made to the Darwin statue.

Charles Darwin is renowned for his theory of evolution by means of natural selection, an idea he presented along with Alfred Russell Wallace, to the Linnaean Society in 1858. This theory, along with Darwin's The Origin of Species publication a year later, transformed how we understand the natural world.

Natural selection is the process where random changes in the genes of an organism, called mutations, occur and benefit that individual making it more likely to survive and have offspring. It is the most widely accepted theory that explains how life on our planet evolved.

Darwin exhibitions

The Museum has two Darwin exhibitions later this year. Darwin's Canopy opens on 4 June and will exhibit the designs of ten top artists. One of these will be selected to appear on the Museum's gallery ceilings as a permanent artwork. And on 14 November the Darwin exhibition opens, giving a new insight into the life and work of this brilliant observer of nature.