There's lots to read in this exhibition (you'll need several hours to do the show proper justice) but the bite size nuggets of information accompanying each exhibit – letters, notebooks, fossils, skeletons and mounted animal specimens - are concise and clearly written leaving the visitor with a satisfyingly thorough overview of Darwin's life and achievements.
However, as the Palazzo delle Esposizioni website and leaflets proudly proclaim
Live animals play a starring role here: green iguanas, armadillo and turtles.It's a well documented fact that Darwin abhorred animal cruelty and certainly, the use of live exhibits in this show – all on loan from the Bioparco di Roma - seems grossly unnecessary. When I visited the show on Saturday 14th February the galleries were packed with families and student groups but the sight of the armadillo in a glass enclosure in the middle of an art gallery seemed, if anything, to perplex and concern visitors. In fact, the Italian Anti-Vivisection League (LAV) had made moves to block these exhibits prior to the opening and issued a legal warning against the mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno amongst others, expressing concern at the potential stress that they will likely endure in the unusual settings of the Palazzo.
Here's hoping that this excellent exhibition centre takes heed and removes the live animals from what is otherwise a fascinating tribute to an extraordinary mind.
Join the Facebook pressure group - Togli gli animali vivi dalla mostra Darwin a Roma - urging the museum to remove the live animals.