Things to Do

Happy Birthday, Darwin: Events and Exhibits Honoring the Evolutionary Scientist

February 12 marks the 200th anniversary of British evolutionary scientist Charles Darwin and the 150th year since the publication of his most influential work, On the Origin of Species. Darwin’s life of scientific research and his famous theories of natural selection have had a strong impact on modern views of evolution and biology. Here’s a list of events focused on his studies and his influence on science as well as local attractions that have a Darwinian attitude toward animals and nature.Thursday, February 12
Darwin Anniversary Symposium; Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History; noon to 3, free.
The National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health, in partnership with the National Museum of Natural History, will host a panel to discuss Darwin’s scholarly accomplishments. Normal muesum hours 10 to 5:30.

Through June 15
“On the Origin of Species (After Darwin),” an exhibition by Tim Rollins and Kids of Survival; National Academy of Sciences; Monday through Friday 9 to 5 (closed February 16).Free but photo ID required
For nearly 30 years, students of South Bronx teacher and conceptual artist Tim Rollins—they call themselves Kids of Survival—use art to interpret literary themes in works from Franz Kafka to George Orwell. This is an exhibit of their work celebrating Darwin.

Wednesday, February 18
“Darwin’s Bicentennial,” lecture by Sandra Herbert; Mary Pickford Theater, Library of Congress, 11:30 to 1:30; free. Sandra Herbert, a scholar and author of Charles Darwin, Geologist, which explores Darwin’s geological studies, will sign books at the end of her lecture.

National Aquarium
Various marine-life exhibits; daily 9 to 5; $7, military and seniors $6, ages 2 to 10 $3, under age 2 free.
In 1835, aboard the HMS Beagle, Darwin voyaged to the volcanic Galápagos Islands, near Ecuador, where he studied the characteristics of finches and tortoises. This research later established his theories on natural selection and evolution. At the National Aquarium, you can witness all sorts of marine life—such as loggerhead sea turtles and giant Pacific octopus—up close.

Through April 26
“Orchids Through Darwin’s Eyes,” 15th annual orchid show; National Museum of Natural History,Normal exhibit hours are 10 to 5:30, February 13, 14, 15- 10 to 7:30 PM ; free.  
This display of nearly 11,000 orchids, including an exhibit on the earliest orchid fossil, demonstrates Darwin’s influence on natural selection and evolution. His study of the adaptation of orchids through their pollination and evolution continues with scientists today.


Reptile Discovery Center; National Zoo, 10 to 4:30; free
Home to 400 species of animals, the National Zoo showcases animals from around the world. This permanent indoor exhibit houses about 70 species of reptiles and amphibians, including iguanas and tortoises, similar to the species that Darwin studied. There are also hands-on exhibits and educational material about conservation.