Darwin Day celebration at Gray Fossil Site features "Darwin" himself

Rain Smith • Feb 13, 2009 at 12:00 AM

In academic circles he is a revered intellectual giant.

To the faithful of organized religion, he is often characterized as a fraud who undermines the divine word.

But no matter ones convictions, and for better or worse, there's no doubting the work of Charles Darwin changed the course of history.

This Saturday, in observance of his 200th birthday on Thursday, visitors to the Gray Fossil and Site and Natural History Museum can "meet" the man himself, and learn more about his theories through a variety of programs.

"We're not really setting out to change anybody's minds," said Jessica Evans, marketing and exhibits manager. "We're offering information to people if they're interested in the subject. They can certainly learn more about it here."

CLICK THE BOX BELOW to view an interview with "Darwin."

The museum invites the public to take a walk in Darwin's shoes through several videos, lectures and activities.

At 2 p.m., ETSU professor of biological sciences Dr. Foster Levy will address the role of disease in Southern Appalachian Trees and Forests. At 3 p.m. "Darwin" will arrive to speak with visitors, present a program on his work and evaluate how the theories have evolved since his death in 1882.

"Darwin" is portrayed by ETSU professor of biological sciences, Dr. Karl Joplin, with makeup effects applied by students of the ETSU division of theater.

Joplin says it's always difficult to don the role of historical figures, but he's looking forward to the challenge.

"It's a good attention grabber; it's a way to get people to look at him as a human rather than vilifying him for something he didn't say or was misinterpreted," Joplin said.

"It's an interesting exercise," he adds with a laugh. "I'll see how I enjoy it."

For information, call toll free (866) 202-6223 or visit www.grayfossilmuseum.org.

Recommended for You