Revolution: Nature in the time of change 1776–1848

An exhibition on the changing practices of natural history in the ‘Age of Revolutions’.

OPEN NOW! Come visit us (Free entry).

Open Tuesdays to Fridays, 10.0017.00, from 10 July until 30 August 2024.

Poster of the Revolution: Nature in the time of change exhibition

The decades around 1800 are regarded as a time of momentous change in the social, political and economic makeup of human society. Natural history is no exception.

Between the time of the American Revolution in 1776 and the revolutions of 1848, the practices of collecting, observing, recording, and distributing knowledge on the natural world became enmeshed with the interests of diverse groups across the globe—ranging from Indigenous groups in Polynesia, Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe through to travelling botanists, ships’ surgeons and surveyors. Throughout these processes, information was exchanged and integrated while being adapted to suit a range of conflicting interests.

Through items from the Linnean Society’s collections, this exhibition follows a naturalist's journey from preparations made to commence global travel; to the practices of collecting; the keeping of records and illustrating nature; and to the final processes of publishing the natural world.

This exhibition is co-curated by Dr Edwin Rose and Professor Staffan Müller-Wille (Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge) and Dr Isabelle Charmantier (Head of Collections, Linnean Society). It complements a day meeting organised by Dr Rose and Professor Müller-Wille, Natural History in the Age of Revolutions 1776–1848, on Monday 15 July 2024 at the Linnean Society.