Haslar Museum attracted thousands of visitors from 1827 – 1860.
One of them was the famous scientist and explorer, Charles Darwin.
Darwin was commissioned by Captain Fitzroy on HMS Beagle to be his gentlemen companion on a voyage around the world from 1831-1836. Darwin had studied natural sciences at Edinburgh and Cambridge universities, and saw this as a great opportunity to study rocks (geology), plants (botany), animals (zoology) and people he came across on his travels.
Darwin collected thousands of objects (specimens) on his travels with HMS Beagle for study by himself and other scientists when he got back home to England. His observations and the items he collected are what he used to inspire his ideas about evolution that are so famous today.
Darwin also was fascinated with specimens in museums and private collections that had been brought back by other travellers and explorers to Britain and Europe. This would have included the collections at Haslar brought back by medical staff serving on Royal Navy ships around the world.
Darwin was not the official naturalist when HMS Beagle set off from Falmouth originally. Robert McCormick was appointed as Surgeon and naturalist by the Royal Navy. However, Darwin quickly took on the naturalist role and McCormick became frustrated at being left on board ship when Fitzroy and Darwin went ashore. He parted company with HMS Beagle in 1832 and returned home.