Charles Darwin could be next on the list of historical figures facing cancellation.
Museum bosses at the U.K.’s Natural History Museum are reportedly “reviewing” exhibits on the legendary biologist over concerns that Darwin’s work is “offensive” and that his voyage to the Galapagos Islands — a trip that is still producing insights into how the natural world develops and changes — was “colonialist” in nature, rendering Darwin himself controversial.
The U.K.’s Sunday Telegraph reports that a memo has gone out to the museum’s staff warning that, in light of the Black Lives Matter movement and massive anti-racism demonstrations that spread from the United States to the United Kingdom, the Natural History Museum’s executive board is commissioning an audit of the museum’s exhibits with a focus on how those exhibits reflect contemporary values.
The memo notes, the Daily Mail adds, that the museum is seeking to become “less racist” by “publicly acknowledging” mistakes of the past
“Collections under review,” the Daily Mail says, “include specimens of exotic birds gathered by naturalist Charles Darwin on his expedition to the Galapagos Island with Captain Robert FitzRoy on HMS Beagle in 1835.”
“According to the academic paper shared with museum staff, the HMS Beagle was cited as one of Britain’s many ‘colonialist scientific expeditions,'” the Mail notes. “It wrote that one of the purposes of the voyage was ‘to enable greater British control of those areas.'”
Darwin himself is also under review. A statue of the famed biologist sits in the museum’s atrium, and administrators are reportedly concerned that it could be offensive because Darwin espoused a now long-outdated belief that humans were members of five separate species.
“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,” the museum’s director, Michael Dixon, explained to staff, according to the Sunday Telegraph. “We want to learn and educate ourselves, recognizing that greater understanding and awareness on diversity and inclusion are essential.”
Charles Darwin is, of course, a controversial figure. His works — most notably “On the Origin of Species” — regularly face censorship in American schools. The left-leaning Guardian notes that most efforts to ban Darwin and information about his discoveries, though, have ended in failure, including two notable, recent efforts in Pennsylvania and Kansas.
Those challenges, though, came largely from religious conservatives concerned that “Darwinism” fully excludes the concept of God from creation and adaptation, encouraging atheism among students. The situation now is different, with the far-left taking direct aim at Charles Darwin’s legacy.
The Museum is also considering axing an exhibit of botanical specimens collected on Captain James Cook’s expeditions to southeast Asia, Australian, New Zealand, and other Pacific island nations, and “items gathered by Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus” and items donated by Sir Hans Sloane, both of whom, museum bigwigs claim, held racist views.
The British Museum removed a bust of Sir Hans Sloane after scholars noted that Sloane owned slaves.