A thought-provoking winter exhibit at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni traces the life and discoveries of Gregor Mendel, the Augustinian friar who is now recognized as the founding father of genetics and modern science. In his lifetime, Mendel was a misunderstood genius, and it was only posthumously that the full depth and breadth of his achievements were understood. DNA: The Great Book of Life, from Mendel to Genomics also explores the discoveries Mendel’s research would eventually spark, from personalized gene therapy, to synthetic life, to future hopes of immortality.
The first part of the exhibition explores the historical aspect, mapping out the crucial stages in this scientific adventure and illustrating both the discoveries and the life and times of the scientists involved: Mendel and the laws governing character heredity, Morgan and fruit flies – crucial for understanding what genes and chromosomes are – and the racist “distortions” of eugenetics, right up to the work of Watson, Crick and Rosalind Franklin on the double helix structure of DNA. The second part of the exhibition takes a look at the present and future, illustrating the themes of cloning, personalised medicine, genetic engineering and artificial biology, with a special focus on forensic genetics and on the study of extinct species’ DNA.
The exhibition showcases a spellbinding selection of different artefacts and styles. The concise explanatory narrative accompanying visitors throughout the exhibition’s seven sections alternates with the display of exciting original exhibits on show to the general public for the very first time here in Italy. They include the parts of the original model used by Watson and Crick to describe DNA’s double helix structure; the real sheep Dolly, the first animal ever to be obtained by cloning; 19th century documents and artefacts belonging to Mendel; historical instruments associated with the disturbing history of eugenetics; and an original fossilised Neanderthal skull from which an attempt is currently being made to extract the DNA. This selection of exhibits from all over the world is accompanied by numeours interactive exhibits specially designed for the exhibition, by video material on display here for the very first time and by iconographic apparatus and spectacular reconstructions in the context of a fully immersive and interactive museum layout.
Till 18 June
Palazzo delle Esposizioni
Via Nazionale 194
Sun – Thurs: 10am-8pm, Fri – Sat: 10am-10.30pm, Closed Monday
Entry: €10 / 12.5