There is a famous statue of a seated Charles Darwin in a strange place in the Natural History Museum in London — it’s tucked into a basement cafeteria. I visited it while I was there, and more unfortunately, Ben Stein posed with it in his awful movie.
It’s been moved!
Now it’s in a much more prominent place on a landing on a central stair, where you can’t miss it if you visit the museum. As you should.
Here’s an example of unintended consequences. After appearing in a significant role (albeit in a most dubious cinematic effort), Darwin’s statue gets a more prominent position in the museum.
Thanks, Ben! We “Darwinists” appreciate your bringing attention to Darwin’s statue!
Brownian, OM says
How’d it move? Genetic drift?
Glen Davidson says
Heretic, it had to have been natural selection.
Don’t you know that we don’t allow any other explanations?
Meh. Call me when it starts shedding tears of blood.
Glen Davidson says
It’s the BIG SCIENCE CONSPIRACY in action!!!
I knew that you DARWINISTS would simply ENFORCE DARWIN WORSHIP in response to the truths in EXPELLED.
You already have your GRAVEN IMAGE, and now you intend to cause all to WORSHIP THE BEAST and THE BEAST’S IMAGE.
And you have to acknowledge the truth of what I wrote, due to the capitalized words.
Emmet Caulfield says
Another instance of Darwin moving.
Seeing as he was a bit of a recluse later in life I think it would be more of a sign of diefication if the statue tried to hide when visiters come and refuse to answer the doorbell.
Knowing the Natural History Museum it will soon be replaced with a display of Darwin-related merchandise you can buy at one of the many gift shops.
It’s always bothered me that Darwin was white. Why couldn’t he be black? Why are there so few black scientists? Was it discrimination, even (or especially) back then?
Hurrah! I hated having to go round the back into the cafeteria in order to say hi to the chief. Has he replaced Owen, or are they now side by side? Heehee, I can imagine them coming alive in the night and fighting in some celebrity death match…
G. Seuss says
It’s a resurrection!
That’s very much the response I was expecting from the Expelled crowd. What’s the over/under on Ben Stein’s response time? I’m taking the under in any case.
Eppur si muove!
Gray Lensman says
Check the magnificent dome on that man. I feel like a pinhead compared to him.
Nice try, but your post is too intelligible, grammatically correct and spelled correctly. You also neglected to mention either the holocaust or social Darwinism, and used only a single font and color. A reference to Jaysus would have also helped.
Amber Culbertson-Faegre says
Well, I guess that he does deserve a more prominent position, with his cameo in a feature-length film, and all. =P
I really hope the move had nothing to do with Expelled.
That’s good! He looked sad and lonely in the shadows.
“…where you can’t miss it if you visit the museum. As you should.”
As we should what? Should we visit the museum? Or should we miss the statue?
Emmet Caulfield says
Somebody should sneak in, put spectacles on the statue, stick on a “Daniel Dennett” nameplate, and see how long it takes for anyone to notice.
A rightful place. Oh and… Nice dinosaur! I LIKE DINOSAURS!
Don’t worry Amber I think it has 100% to do with his bicentenial, which despite Ben Stien’s ego wouldn’t have been stopped for anything.
It’s always bothered me that Darwin was white. Why couldn’t he be black?
Well, his mommy and daddy were “white”, and their mommies and daddies were “white”, and their…. you are familiar with the basic principles of genetics, right?
But they’ve ruined the symmetry they had down in the cafe with Darwin on one side and Huxley on the other. And a statue of Darwin sitting isn’t nearly as magnificent as Richard Owen standing. I liked it better how it was.
Good lord. Just adding those caps gave it a certain frightening authenticity, and I’d already recognized your name.
Poe’s law continues to gather evidence. o.0
T. Bruce McNeely says
There’s an element of symmetry here:
Darwin’s statue moves from the basement to a place of prominence.
Stein’s career moves from a place of prominence to the basement.
Psycho Atheist says
Your powers never cease to amaze me PZ. Believe it or not but I have, this very minute, just re-entered my house after spending the entire day at the Natural History Museum with the family.
Big Charles does indeed have pride of place, overlooking the main hall, although he is looking a bit tatty there is a sign claiming that he is about to undergo a serious scrub up prior to the bi-centenary celebrations.
What a cracking day out and I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone. Like most museums in London there is no entry charge for the Natural History Museum. A word of warning though, take a packed lunch with you, the prices in the eateries within the museum are a monumental rip-off.
But at least I got to see the man!
Dave Godfrey says
Darwin has replaced Owen, who’s now up the staircase on his left.
Incidentally Darwin used to be at the top of the stairs for a very long time, but got moved sometime in the 60s or 70s, when people decided to start celebrating Owen for getting the museum set up as an independent entity.
To improve the symmetry I think they should get a statue of Charles Lyell next to Huxley.
Disney’s Audio Animatronics™?
Follow the links, people.
There’s a nice little time-lapse film showing how they first swept Owen upstairs.
Michelly (#20), I noticed that too. What do you want to bet someone is gonna say that the Evilusionists have placed Darwin atop the stairs so that all the innocent kids that just want to see the behemoth that G-D killed in teh Floodzorz, will have to bow down to the graven idol?
I’m honestly worried, though, that one of the up-and-coming UK creotards is gonna take a hammer to poor ol’ Chuck.
Delighted to see Charles back where he belongs. In the ground floor cafeteria he was out of scale. Back on the main staircase he can look over the ground floor.
The dinosaur is Diplodus carnegii, thanks to the donation by the eponymous American businessman and philanthropist who came to Europe trying to get rid of a number of replicas he had made! “Your Majesty, please accept this little donation to your museum”. “Your Kaisership, please accept this little donation …” etc.
Diplodocus comes from the Late Morrison Formation of the USA from the late Jurassic – there truly were giants on the Earth in THOSE days!
Dippie was one of the first dinosaurs to be reconstructed standing on straight legs. In recent years it has been improved in the NHM by changing from the tail running along the ground to the more active pose with a whip-like tail.
(As a child and teenager I used to spend nearly all my weekends and holidays in the NHM and the other world class museums in South Kennsington, London. If I remember correctly there was the NHM, Science Museum, Geological Museum, Aeronautical Museum, Victoria and Albert, Imperial College and the Commonwealth Institute, all within walking distance. The British Museum – mummies, famous documents including some of the earliest biblical manuscripts, BM Library used by Karl Mark etc. – was just a short bus ride down the road)
Yay! I was at the museum one day after it was moved(last saturday). Darwin’s statue sure looks ominous in that setting.
I have to add that the museum is simply awesome. I had a great time visiting the place.
They even had a talk arranged that day on Darwin and the evolution of Hawaiian birds. The paleontologist presenting the talk believed that if Darwin had visited the Hawaiian islands he would have come to his theoretical conclusions much earlier.
On the whole an inspiring and informative experience.
this’ll make it much harder to drink a cup o tea beside him. although the cafe’s pretty extortionately priced anyhow.
#4, I’m pretty sure asking Darwin to bleed from the eyes would go very much against his quite Victorian nature. Could you go for a miraculously perfect replica of Rosalind Franklin’s X-ray crystallography photograph of DNA on breakfast toast instead?
Matt Penfold says
Strange how you never see media reports of someone finding such an image and in the process of selling it on ebay for whatever some gullible mug will pay.
To be honest, everyone would have seen the statue even in the cafe. I certainly spotted it…
@4, 33: Statues never bleed- its butterfly ‘shit.’ More correctly the red rains and red droplets recorded on statuary in medieval Europe consists of the metabolic waste products, shed at eclosion from the chrysalides of Nymphalid butterflies. Most ‘red rains’ have been attributed to the species Vanessa atalanta and V. cardui (Red Admiral and Painted Lady). There is a nice historical account of the phenomenon in W. J. Holland’s ‘The Butterfly Book.’
Charlie Matthis says
Maybe not blood, but does anyone have a vial of oil they can sneak in and squeeze out under his eyes? Someone please make a toaster that burns Darwin’s face into bread, I would buy that in a heartbeat.
Crying statues are great, I like to call them “ignorance magnets.” Now if we can just turn them into non-lethal “ignorance bug zappers” then it would be funnier. Electric fence maybe?
I have always said that if I ever find a man willing to marry me then our service will be in the NHM. The architecture is amazing as well – it has gargoyles people!
I thought the mother-in-law was supposed to provide the gargoyle at a wedding. :-)
Q: How did the Darwin statue get moved?
A: Goddidit. Just to piss off Ben Stein and Mark Mathis.
Fergus Gallagher says
I misread this as meaning one should miss seeing the statue.
Sampo Rassi says
I’m reminded of the ending of “The Science of Discworld III”, where the wizards, having successfully saved Roundworld from doom by ensuring that Charles Darwin writes The Origin of species (as opposed to Theology of Species), show Darwin a vision of things to come, the Museum of Natural History.
The wizards, being a race of men built to be big eaters, approved of the positioning of the statue at the canteen, however. “That way, every sensible person sees it”.
Also, they manage to destroy the being that led him to espouse creationism instead using pure logic…
but dammit! You took my line!
Its a bit sad they moved Owen. People already know Darwin, but Owen needs a good vantage point to get attention amongst that vast array of wonder. On the plus side, I almost missed Darwin when I was there, and that won’t happen again.
And yes, nice dinosaur :)
JM Inc. says
#9: “It’s always bothered me that Darwin was white. Why couldn’t he be black? Why are there so few black scientists? Was it discrimination, even (or especially) back then?”
I’m not sure if this is intended to be a joke or what, but it sounded pretty racist to me. Who the heck cares about the colour of his skin? It’s what’s in the old cranial vault that counts. As to why there are “so few black scientists”, it’s because sub-Saharan African countries, on average, are notoriously war-torn and poverty stricken due to a confluence of deplorable factors, and war-torn poverty is not known to be an ideal environment for nurturing the development of bright young minds. If the global community would get its bloody act together and do something useful for a change (following the advise of, say, the International Humanist and Ethical Union), you’d see a more proportionally representative number of “black” scientists.
As for old Darwin, I’m glad to see that on his bicentennial he’s getting the recognition he deserves, especially given the ongoing attempts to tarnish the memory of his brilliance by ravening hordes of gobby intellectual hobgoblins and all around philosophical vandals.
PZ said: “Now it’s in a much more prominent place on a landing on a central stair, where you can’t miss it if you visit the museum. ”
As it should be. Evolution is a fact as much as any in science, and that needs to be impressed upon people as much as possible. I’m interested to know, what do you guys think of the idea stressing the universal adoption of Cladistics over Linnaean taxonomy in both popular as well as academic literature? Creationists are already well outside the scientific mainstream, and are completely out of touch with the state of the field of biology in general, and yet it almost seems to me that, if even in a small way, we’re handing them a chisel by allowing them to talk biology without tacitly admitting evolution – why? What do you think of the idea of systematically rebranding in the public consciousness modern taxonomy with the indelible marks of the science of evolution? Is this too much a deliberate political ploy to be appropriate? I think we ought to do all we can to oust these scientwits (yes, I’m aware of how linguistically hideous that was) from any disingenuous purchase of semblances of scientific discourse in the eyes of the layperson. On the other hand, maybe that’s just too philosophically unsanitary an action to take (although, to be certain, this is not an intellectual war that is being waged against us, but one of mimetic colonialism and parasitism, and perhaps it is time we begin deploying some antiviral measures). What say you?
Did people see it get moved or did everyone blink and there it was?
Bill Bryson, an American nonfiction writer who is enormously popular in English speaking countries outside of the USA, had an interesting take on Owen’s and Darwin’s relationship. In A Brief History of Nearly Everything (2003) Bryson paints Owen as brilliant but with character flaws, summarising a passage with
That passage persuaded me to visit the NHM when I visited London last year, and I will certainly visit again on my return next month.
Jorg Willekens says
Well, last time I was there, I actually found it funny that I could have a coffee next to Darwin. ;-)
Samantha Vimes says
The Turtle Moves!
Well, the old boy deserves a bit of light and a wash-and-brush-up, after having to put up with Ben Stein
making the evil eye at him.
Billy Sands says
Q: How did the Darwin statue get moved?
A: Goddidit. Just to piss off Ben Stein and Mark Mathis.
Wait till Stein finds out that Darwin is buried at Westminster Abbey.
“I have always said that if I ever find a man willing to marry me then our service will be in the NHM. The architecture is amazing as well – it has gargoyles people!”
It’s my favourite building and by a happy coincidence I got married in my wife’s family’s local church* which was also designed by Waterhouse and according to Wikipedia “shows interestingly similar patterning to the Natural History Museum and was designed at the same time”.
I also used to work in Holborn Bars, another of his wonderful buildings.
* Didn’t really want to get married in church but her Dad really wanted it to be there and it was one of the cheapest options!
Iain Walker says
Psycho Atheist (#26)
Do they still have the animatronic Deinonychi perched on top of the cabinets in the dinosaur galleries? Most of them have a habit of blinking coquettishly at passers-by, but last time I was at the NHM one of them had developed a malfunction and could only wink …
I liked having him in the cafeteria.
Tea with Darwin is a jolly nice thing.