Sir David Attenborough unveils Wallace statue

08 November 2013

A fitting commemoration to Victorian naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace ends a year of celebration.

On the final day of a series of events to mark the life of the great naturalist, Sir David Attenborough and comedian Bill Bailey unveiled the world's first statue of Alfred Russel Wallace yesterday.

It comes on the 100th anniversary of the forgotten scientist's death and ends the Museum's Wallace100 celebrations.

Wallace, who co-founded the theory of evolution by natural selection, was often overshadowed by his more famous colleague, Charles Darwin.

The statue shows Wallace in his thirties in the field with a butterfly net during his expedition to the Malay Archipelago. It captures the moment he first saw the magnificent golden birdwing butterfly, Ornithoptera croesus, an event so exciting, he describes having a headache for the rest of the day.


Wallace admirers, Bill Bailey and Sir David Attenborough at the final Wallace100 event this week.

Fellow naturalist Sir David Attenborough said, 'Wallace was an admirable man, a modest man, a tough man and a great scientist and I am truly privileged to unveil the statue of this great man.'

Bill Bailey, who is Patron of the Wallace Memorial Fund, added, 'He never lost his sense of awe and appreciation and love for the natural world. Feelings I have also and which are replenished every time I come to the Museum.'

Richard Wallace, Alfred's grandson, who was at the unveiling, said, 'He was a modest man, he'd be slightly amused by all this!'

Sir David went on to deliver the tenth and final lecture in the series of Wallace100 events, focusing on birds of paradise, one of Wallace's specialities.

The statue will stand in the Darwin Centre for a short time and will then take up permanent residence outside, between the Darwin Centre and the Wildlife Garden.


Doing what he loved best: Alfred Russel Wallace depicted out in the field in southeast Asia, a time he regarded as the defining period of his life.

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