The North Hall statues

Charles Darwin and Thomas Henry Huxley were well-known scientists of the time, and their statues have both stood in the North Hall of the Museum. In 1885 the statue of Darwin took pride of place in the Central Hall, which may not have pleased Richard Owen, who had never fully embraced Darwin’s ideas. In 1927 Darwin’s statue was moved to the North Hall, to be replaced by a statue of Richard Owen in the prominent position on the Central Hall staircase. The Darwin statue was moved back to the Central Hall  to celebrate Darwin200.

Statue of Darwin

Charles Darwin published On The Origin Of Species in 1859, which introduced his famous theory of evolution by natural selection. This contradicted strong beliefs in divine creation and sparked feverish discussion across the country. Find out more about Charles Darwin.

Statue of Huxley

In what became known as the Great Debate in 1860, pioneering biologist and educator Thomas Henry Huxley championed Darwin’s ideas against the Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce.

Portrait of Darwin

Darwin’s theory implies that creatures past and present are all part of one single tree of life, and that new species are created when those best-suited to their environment survive and pass on their successful characteristics. Learn more about Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Moving the statue of Darwin

The Museum had been designed to make it possible to move large exhibits with the minimum of disruption and effort. This was to prove helpful when it came to moving these statues.

Vanity Fair cartoon of Huxley

Darwin’s theory, and Huxley’s support of it, were highly controversial and much reported on and discussed. This image shows a cartoon of Huxley, from Vanity Fair at the time.