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Science meets art

The art of evolution.

  • inca cases at the fitzwilliam museum
  • inca cases at the fitzwilliam museum

The Fitzwilliam Museum's exhibition "Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts" ran from June to October to great acclaim.

It explored Darwin's links with artistic traditions and his impact on the visual arts in Europe and America in the nineteenth century.

The exhibition juxtaposed art works with scientific material of all sorts, from geological maps and botanical teaching diagrams to fossils, minerals, and ornithological specimens. This fascinating collection revealed the many interactions between natural science and art during this period.

TESS Demountable supplied the showcases for the exhibition, and these same cases will be used for years to come to support the museum's ongoing temporary exhibition programme. The interdisciplinary nature of Endless Forms meant that the cases would be used to display not only drawings and manuscripts but also specimens, including a number of fossils lent by the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and a display of birds of paradise from the Museum of Zoology, both part of the University of Cambridge. The birds of paradise were housed in a case from the TESS 'Evolution' range - very appropriate given the theme of the exhibition! As they are intended for long-term use within the museum for its permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions, the cases clearly needed to conform to the highest display standards, leading us to specify anti-bandit laminate glass, high security locks and humidity control.

The project timeline was exceptionally tight. The museum team, consisting of the exhibition curator, conservator, researchers, technicians and security manager, held two meetings with Clive McCready, one on site at the Fitzwilliam and another at the TESS southern office in Thame. A productive dialogue continued between the museum and TESS as the display requirements were honed down and the order was finally placed in March for delivery in May. Installation ran smoothly, thanks to this extensive planning and preparation. The team had previously ensured that the largest of the cases would fit into the museum's service lift and delivery and installation were completed within two days by the cheerful TESS team.

The scale of the exhibition (the most ambitious that the Fitzwilliam has ever organised), the complexities of the display and the need to adhere to strict museum standards meant that we needed a reliable company to work with. TESS did not let us down and their knowledgeable team were able to offer advice throughout the process.

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Exhibition fact file

What's Inside

The art of evolution - manuscripts, drawings, specimens and artworks exploring the links between Darwin's work and the visual arts.

Museum

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Date

2006 and 2009

Designer

BLB Architects

Cases Used

Evolution and Prism HD