Bell Museum premieres “Life” exhibit, discusses Darwin

Photographs portray the theory of evolution.

In its North American debut, âÄúLife: A Journey Through Time,âÄù a series of 62 photographs taken over the course of seven years by photographer Frans Lanting, premiered Saturday at the Bell Museum of Natural History. The exhibit opening followed a discussion Thursday celebrating Charles DarwinâÄôs 200th birthday and his contributions to the theory of evolution. The exhibit, which will run at the Bell Museum through mid-April, is organized with the idea of the earthâÄôs evolution from the earliest life forms to present-day ecosystems. Lanting, who has worked as a nature photographer for 30 years shooting for National Geographic and the World Wildlife Fund, said the exhibit adds another voice to public discourse on environmental responsibility and conservation. âÄúPhotography is a fantastic way to communicate complex ideas as well as the vitality of nature to people around the world,âÄù Lanting said. âÄúPhotography speaks a universal language. It transcends culture and language boundaries.âÄù Geology and geophysics professor David Fox said the exhibit brings home the way people understand modern diversity of life and fossil records. âÄú ItâÄôs an opportunity to see aspects of nature and of life on Earth that many folks may not have had the opportunity to see before,âÄù Fox said. Biology professor and discussion panelist Sehoya Cotner said the evolution of life drives her in teaching biology. âÄúWe have scientific method,âÄù Cotner said, âÄúbut we also have evolution as a framework of understanding how life came to be in all of its wackiness.âÄù This discussion also marks the 150th anniversary year of DarwinâÄôs âÄúOrigin of Species.âÄù Fox, an associate curator for the exhibit, said DarwinâÄôs book was one of the most important works in European history. âÄúIt was a seminal event in the history of biology,âÄù Fox said. âÄúIt is a foundational scientific work. Not only here, nationwide, worldwide itâÄôs being celebrated.âÄù The connections between DarwinâÄôs work and the âÄúLifeâÄù exhibit are obvious, Lanting said of his work. âÄúThe âÄòLifeâÄô project is a celebration of life on Earth, so the connection is that we present scientific insights in a more lyrical fashion,âÄù Lanting said. Fox said the photographs contrast and parallel each other. âÄúIt allows people to see the diversity and the beauty of life in its Earth range,âÄù Fox said.