V. TREE artwork

First permanent art installation at the Museum, TREE, by Tania Kovats, 2009.

Ceiling artwork

Photograph of the TREE artwork in the Museum's gallery.

Look up at the ceiling and see the Museum’s first permanent art installation, celebrating 200 years since Charles Darwin’s birth.

Celebrating Darwin

Sketch from Darwin’s Transmutation Notebook B, 1837.

Sketch from Darwin’s Transmutation Notebook B, 1837.

TREE was commissioned by the Museum to mark 200 years since the birth of naturalist Charles Darwin, and 150 years since he published On the Origin of Species.

The installation was inspired by a diagram made by Darwin in his Transmutation Notebook B of 1837, following his voyage on the Beagle. It is a simple expression of his idea of a branching tree of life.

A slice of history

The oak tree in Longleat forest.

The oak tree in Longleat forest.

The installation was crafted from a 200-year-old oak tree chosen from the managed forests of Longleat Estate in Wiltshire. The tree was growing at the time Darwin was alive and developing his theory. The single slice reflects on Darwin’s life, his tree of life and the legacy of his theory of evolution.

A living legacy

Biodiversity pool where the tree once stood.

Biodiversity pool where the tree once stood.

The artist Tania Kovats worked with foresters on the estate to plant 200 saplings in place of the oak. In time, they will become a growing monument to the endurance of Darwin’s radical idea.

The massive hole left after excavating the dying tree’s roots was converted to a pond, increasing biodiversity in the forest.

Legacy shared

Artist, Tania Kovats.

Artist, Tania Kovats.

The Museum collected samples of the tree and invertebrates that it hosted. These have joined the scientific collections. Additionally, a limited series of sections of a branch were taken.

This set of works called BRANCH were given to museums in each country visited by Darwin’s Beagle as a goodwill gift to celebrate Darwin’s life and work.

Around the Museum

Image from Images of Nature gallery.

See how nature has inspired artists from 350 years ago to the present day, in Images of Nature in the Blue Zone.