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Life Sciences Seminar



Building a Vision of Nature: The NHM as Art and Architecture



John Holmes

Reading University


Friday 25 of January 11:00

Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)



The NHM is not only one of the world's great natural history museums, it is also one of the most beautiful. The look of the museum reflects the vision of two eminent Victorians: the comparative anatomist Richard Owen and the architect Alfred Waterhouse. Owen and Waterhouse shared a concept of nature as the creative work of God. They sought to embody that idea in the very fabric of the building itself, in its structures, plans, materials and decorations. In this talk, John Holmes will explore the different ways in which Waterhouse's building communicates this understanding of nature, how they cohere into a single vision of the natural world, and how far they have – or have not – proven adaptable to changing understandings of the natural world over the 130 years since the museum first opened.



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