From Fossils to Photography

Expression of the emotions in man and animals Ilustration from Charles Darwin FRS's 'The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals' (1873)

From Fossils to Photography

In 1859, Charles Darwin FRS published a book that changed the world. On the Origin of Species explained Darwin's theory that plant and animal species evolve in response to their environment: a theory later known as 'survival of the fittest'.

Darwin's revolutionary idea spread quickly. Scientists and the public began to question longstanding beliefs about the human race and the natural world. They collected, travelled, experimented, measured, and argued. They were busy and enthusiastic, and they wanted to know more.

Darwin's theory was not the only way that Victorian scientists changed our world. Their inventions and ideas are the foundation of modern life. This exhibition explores four areas of Victorian science: geology, expeditions, anthropology and photography. Meet the men and women who made it happen:

Domestic Science: Victorian Naturalists at Home

Scientific enquiry was not restricted to specialists, but gained wide popularity among the general public, particularly as notable scientific figures were also seen to be conducting experiments from the comfort of their own homes. Find out more.


We would like to thank the following people and institutions for their kind help in preparing the exhibition:

Mark Carnall, Grant Museum of Zoology & Comparative AnatomyDr David Ellis, Cambridge Science & Archaeology Forum

Steve Laurie, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Natasha McEnroe, Grant Museum of Zoology & Comparative Anatomy

Dan Pemberton, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Adam Perkins, Cambridge University Library

Matthew Riley, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Events and exhibitions

We run a programme of regular events, conferences and exhibitions on the history of science for researchers and members of the public.

Audio recordings and video recordings are available for many of our events.

An archive of some of our past exhibitions is also available.