D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum Exhibitions

Botanica Mathematica

An exhibition in the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum

2 - 30 June, Fridays 2-4.30pm

image from the Botanica Mathematica projectBotanica Mathematica is a textile taxonomy of mathematically-inspired plant forms. Its creators, Julia Collins and Madeleine Shepherd, have combined ideas from D’Arcy Thompson’s On Growth and Form, computer science, fractals and hyperbolic geometry. The specimen collection consists mainly of crowd-sourced contributions of Binary Bonsai trees. Generative instructions and algorithmic knitting patterns are the genetic code of these creations; textile techniques are their metabolism. These patterns were released into the wild to evolve and change as makers around the world interpreted them. The elegant structures, rich textures and fascinating patterns that arise have been collected and classified, with the aid of taxonomist Jo Macrae, as if they were specimens in a botanical herbarium. As well as the Binary Bonsai collection, this exhibit includes Fibonacci Flowers and Hyperbolic Chanterelles which will form the basis of an accompanying workshop on 18 June.

Visit the Botanica Mathematica website for more.

A Sketch of the Universe: Art, Science and the Influence of D’Arcy Thompson

An exhibition of our D'Arcy Thompson art collections at Edinburgh City Art Centre

19 November 2016 - 19 February 2017

Visit the City Art Centre website for more information.

image of students' work from the Pole Tay Pole exhibitionPole Tay Pole

D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum

Carnelley Building, University of Dundee


Preview on Friday 12 February 2016, 5.30-7pm

Open day on Sunday 14 February 2016, 11am-4pm


Level 3 Illustration students from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design present a selection of artworks inspired by Dundee's historic connections with polar exploration and whaling.


SomiteNature's Equations: D'Arcy Thompson and the Beauty of Mathematics

22 August – 25 October 2015

Dundee Science Centre


This exhibition celebrates the world of Biomathematics, also known as Mathematical Biology. This is a field of science pioneered by D'Arcy Thompson, in which equations, patterns and models are used to study living organisms, from simple cells to complex systems such as human beings. Today the University has many researchers in this field, and this exhibition looks at how D’Arcy’s pioneering work is being taken forward in new and exciting ways.

The exhibition has been created by the University of Dundee Museum Services in association with staff from Mathematics in the School of Science & Engineering. It has been funded thanks to a grant from the London Mathematical Society as part of the Local Heroes programme celebrating its 150th anniversary.

Click here to find out more.

Andy Lomas artworkA Glimpse of a Great Vision - the D'Arcy Thompson Art Fund Collection

Tower Foyer & Lamb Galleries, Tower Building, University of Dundee

31 May – 26 July 2014

Mon-Fri 09.30-20.30 Sat 09.30-16.30

This major exhibition features the results of a two-year project by the University of Dundee funded by the Art Fund’s RENEW scheme to build a collection of significant artwork inspired by D’Arcy Thompson, Dundee's first Professor of Biology. D’Arcy’s book On Growth and Form had a huge influence on some of the most important artists of the 20th century, and continues to act as an inspiration today. As well as work by notable figures such as Henry Moore, Victor Pasmore, William Turnbull and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, the collection includes recent work by Will Maclean, Andy Lomas and Marion Smith, and specially commissioned pieces created in direct response to the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum by Daniel Brown, Gemma Anderson, Roger Wilson and others. The exhibition features paintings, prints, sculpture, video and computer art, exploring the fascinating links between art and science.

Click here for more information and details of related events.

image by Gareth Fisher from D'Arcy Thompson Print FolioThe D'Arcy Thompson Print Folio

Tower Foyer Gallery

17 August - 21 September 2013

As part of our on-going project to explore the influence of D'Arcy Thompson in the visual arts, this exhibition features the first showing of a newly commissioned folio of limited edition artist's prints, created by the Printmaking Workshop at DJCAD and featuring new work by some of the College's most acclaimed artists, including Calum Colvin, Graham Fagen, Dalziel+Scullion and many others. The folio will be on sale to help raise funds for Museum Services' programme of bringing artists to Dundee to use the D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum's collections. Click the links to find out about more about the exhibition and the folio.



duck-billed platypusMyths & Monsters

Dundee Science Centre

1 July - 29 September 2013

Various specimens from the D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum are on display at Dundee Science Centre to accompany the Natural History Museum's touring exhibition Myths & Monsters, and we've curated our own display alongside this featuring zoology specimens and artworks of a mythical or monstrous nature! Find out the connections between narwhals and unicorns, elephants and cyclops and dugongs and mermaids among others. Visit the Dundee Science Centre website for more information.

The main exhibition runs until 29 September but the display curated by Museum Services will continue until 2014.

photograph of Mary Lily WalkerMary Lily Walker: Dundee's Forgotten Heroine

21 June - 12 August 2013

Tower Foyer Gallery


This exhibition marks the centenary of the death of Mary Lily Walker. One of the first cohort of students at University College, Dundee, Walker became the prime mover behind the Dundee Social Union and a pioneering social reformer, campaigning to improve the lives of the poorest in Dundee, particularly working women and their children.

Walker studied under D'Arcy Thompson and formed a close relationship with him. The exhibition features letters between them, specimens from D'Arcy's museum and Walker's research papers from D'Arcy's journal Studies from the Museum of Zoology at University College Dundee.

Click here for more information

Unnatural Wonders and "Drawn from Structures Living and Dead"

Cluster by Mark WrightTwo art exhibitions inspired by the ideas and collections of D'Arcy Thompson, Dundee's pioneer of life sciences

Unnatural Wonders
Mark Wright
Tower Foyer Gallery

"Drawn from Structures Living and Dead"

Gemma Anderson
Mirna Sarajlic
Lindsay Sekulowicz
Lamb Gallery‌

18 January - 23 March 2013

Mon-Fri 09.30-20.30 Sat 09.30-16.30

Admission Free

In these two exhibitions we showcase work by four artists who have drawn on D'Arcy's ideas and collections. In the Tower Foyer Gallery, painter Mark Wright draws on visual imagery sourced from organic structures and forms, exploring ideas of visual perception and concepts of beauty in the exhibition Unnatural Wonders. Mark is a Lecturer in Fine Art at Loughborough University and has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally.

The exhibition in the Lamb Gallery takes its title, "Drawn from Structures Living and Dead", from D'Arcy Thompson's celebrated book On Growth and Form. The three artists featured work in various media but all of them use drawing as a starting point to help understand the natural world. Gemma Anderson is based in Falmouth and is undertaking a PhD on isomorphology, looking at shared patterns across different natural forms and the role of the artist in helping scientists to understand these. Mirna Sarajlic is based in Dundee and recently completed the Masters of Fine Art course at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design. Lindsay Sekulowicz is based in London and was artist-in-residence in the D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum during the summer as part of a collaboration with the Barns Graham Charitable Trust and the Royal Scottish Academy. 

Click here for more information

Overflow by Wilhelmina Barns-GrahamMathematical Beauty: the Science & Art of Form

17 January - 2 March 2013

Gateway Galleries, University of St Andrews

This special exhibition curated by the University of St Andrews Museum Collections Unit features many of the works of art acquired by the University of Dundee through our Art Fund RENEW project. Dive into an exploration of the artistic legacy of D'Arcy Thompson. Discover how science inspires art and influences artistic study of form. Be mesmerised by cutting-edge digital artist Daniel Brown's latest installation and enjoy pieces by many renowned artists including Henry Moore, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Will Maclean and Bruce Gernand.

Click here for more information.

Bloom by Yumi Choi from the Acts of Displacement exhibitionActs of Displacement


an exhibition by Master of Fine Art students in the D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum

18 January - 2 March 2013

To accompany the exhibitions Unnatural Wonders and "Drawn from Structures Living and Dead", the D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum is playing host to the Master of Fine Art students from DJCAD, who have created site-specific artworks and installation pieces in response to this amazing venue. Their work can be seen on Fri 18 Jan 6.30-8pm in the Zoology Museum, Carnelley Building, and on other special openings on 2 February and 2 March. Click here for more information.

Coded Chimera and Heresies

Two art exhibitions inspired by D'Arcy Thompson

28 April - 16 June 2012, Tower Foyer and Lamb Galleries,
Tower Building, University of Dundee

Coded Chimera poster Heresies poster

These two exhibitions mark the start of a two-year project to explore the influence of D'Arcy Thompson, the University of Dundee's first Professor of Biology, on the visual arts - part of a special initiative by the University's Museum Services supported by the Art Fund's RENEW scheme.

In the Tower Foyer Gallery, the exhibition Coded Chimera features the results of an AHRC-funded research project by sculptor Bruce Gernand. His project was developed in association with the Natural History Museum and the Cambridge Computer Lab and explores the ideas of morphogenesis (the study of biological dynamics) pioneered by D'Arcy Thompson.

Using digital scans of zoological specimens and customised computer software tools, different animal forms are morphed to create hybrid shapes. The sculptures, models and diagrams shown in the exhibition (which was first staged at the University of Cambridge last year) make connections between the process of sculpture and the principles of biological dynamics.

In the Lamb Gallery, the exhibition Heresies features three artists, B E Cole, Stuart Mackenzie and Roger Wilson, presenting responses both to D'Arcy Thompson's collection in Dundee and the theories and observations arising from his research. The title refers to Thompson's own description of his research in the eyes of the scientific establishment. It also works as a reminder of the impact of his work on artists practising in the first half of the 20th century and their effort to establish a visual language connected to the natural world but distanced from academic naturalism.

Whilst the three artists employ different media and approaches they share a common interest in the generation of form through process. All three employ close observation and extensive experimentation leading to works, which add to our visual language and our relationship with science and the natural world.

Find out more information

Arctic Bound: An exhibition of photographs by Alexander Rodger and David Dickson, 1894-7

In the 1890s two young naturalists were sent on expeditions to the Arctic to collect specimens for the Zoology Museum of Professor D'Arcy Thompson at University College, Dundee. They also took photographic equipment with them and captured some fascinating shots of life among the whalers and the native people of some of the northernmost settlements on Earth.  

The exhibition is on show at Discovery Point until 10 January 2013, having previously been held at both University of St Andrews School of Art History, 17 June - 30 September 2011 and University of Dundee Tower Foyer Gallery, 26 November - 26 January 2012.  Find out more about the Arctic Exhibition.

D'Arcy Thompson: Scientist & Collector

A display showing some of the thousands of zoology specimens that D'Arcy Thompson collected for his museum in Dundee, from tiny marine organisms to some of the world's largest mammals.

30 April 2010 - January 2011
Sensation: Dundee Science Centre

(NB - there is an admission charge to Sensation but no additional cost to see the exhibition)

For details of opening times, see the Sensation website

D'Arcy Thompson: Growth & Form

An exhibition celebrating 150 years since the birth of Dundee's pioneer of life sciences

19 March - 22 May 2010, Lamb Gallery,
Tower Building, University of Dundee


Click on the poster for more information

D'Arcy Thompson's Voyages of Discovery

A temporary display looking at D'Arcy's polar connections, featuring Arctic and Antarctic specimens from his museum.

12 March - 13 June
Discovery Point

Find out more on the RRS Discovery website


An exhibition by level 3 Illustration students

inspired by the life and collections of D'Arcy Thompson

5 - 20 March 2010, Bradshaw Art Space
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design


Click on the poster for more information

Sally Osborn - A Sketch of the Universe

23 January - 5 March 2004, Cooper Gallery

The results of artist Sally Osborn's residency in the Zoology Museum.

Beasts Both Small and Great

23 January - 28 February 2004, Lamb Gallery

2039 beasts2 1895

Excerpts from letters by Sir D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson illustrated by specimens from the collection - "Today we got a small bear, and yet another pelican". Also on display are photographs of D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson and the original Zoology Museum. Curated by Exhibition Department gallery assistants Catriona Morrison and Isla Brookes.

beasts1 1329

"...and a bag full of monkeys!"

An exhibition at Barrack Street Museum, 1997-8

exhibition poster

Find out more about this exhibition.

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