The Black Lives Matters protests triggered a review of items and exhibits at London’s Natural History Museum, which includes one about Charles Darwin.

It turns out one curator labeled Darwin’s visit to the Galapagos Island “as one of Britain’s many ‘colonialist scientific expeditions.'”

The Telegraph received documents of the internal review:

Michael Dixon, the director of the Natural History Museum, explained to staff: “The Black Lives Matter movement has demonstrated that we need to do more and act faster, so as a first step we have commenced an institution-wide review on naming and recognition.”

He added: “We want to learn and educate ourselves, recognising that greater understanding and awareness on diversity and inclusion are essential.”

Yes, somehow Darwin’s visit to the island is considered problematic, even though it helped science and people to understand nature.

From The Telegraph:

An example of the new thinking to address perceived imperial connections to science was a paper penned by a curator and shared with staff, which claimed “science, racism, and colonial power were inherently entwined”.

The work further argues that “museums were put in place to legitimise a racist ideology”, that “covert racism exists in the gaps between the displays”, and as a result collections need to be decolonised.

The executive board of the museum is understood to be “very engaged with the many issues and questions it highlights”.

Legacies that may fall foul of the shift in opinion might be the exotic birds of Darwin and Captain Robert Fitzroy, as their shared journey to South American was “enable greater British control” of the region, according to the paper shared with staff.

The great naturalist Darwin also has a statue in the museum’s main hall, and a large wing named after him.

The museum will also examine Hintze Hall’s ceiling:

The painted ceiling contains visual depictions of plants “like cotton, tea and tobacco” which were “the plants that fuelled the British Empire’s economy”, according to the paper shared with staff in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.

The National History Museum also has a large collection of items from Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus, who “devised the Latin naming system of different species.”

But those names could come become problematic because Linnaeus viewed Africans as “indolent.” The Telegraph said his opinions on Africans could cause people to see that his naming system “as erasing indigenous terms for specimens then collected and renamed by European naturalists.”

Then there’s the statue of Thomas Henry Huxley, who is known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” since he advocated for Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Huxley is a controversial figure due to his racial theories. He listed the nine human races in four categories: Australioid, Negroid, Xanthochronic, and Mongoloid

[Featured image via YouTube]


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