Off the beaten track: documenting discovery in the long 19th century

Our library exhibition, 'Off the beaten track: documenting discovery in the long 19th century', took place in the Old Library from June-December 2016. It received around 3,000 visitors during that period.

An exciting interactive online version of the exhibition is now available! Click 'Start Prezi' on the widget below and select the full screen option in the bottom right-hand corner. Climb to the summit using the arrow keys to take you from slide to slide.

Visitors are invited to scale mountains, cross oceans, and make startling discoveries of flora and fauna in an exhibition reflecting on 150 years of geographical, scientific and historical discovery.  We are especially excited to be able to display the manuscript travel journals of two extraordinary Christ’s characters, classicist W.H.D. Rouse (1863-1950) and plant hunter extraordinaire Frank Kingdon-Ward (1885-1958). Packed with anecdotes of adventure, sketches of sights and, in the case of Kingdon-Ward, plant specimens plucked from Burmese mountain slopes, the journals offer a unique insight into the excitement, dangers and frustrations of exploration in a century defined by huge advances in science and transportation.

Christ’s College also holds three albums of extraordinary photographs taken during the ground-breaking four-year voyage of HMS Challenger, the first circumnavigatory expedition to combine every contemporary branch of marine science. Donated to the College by alumnus and Challenger chemist John Young Buchanan (1844-1925) our collection holds more unique photographs of the voyage than any other. There is a wealth of further material on display: from the beautifully illustrated narrative of Edward Whymper’s fateful first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 (pictured in the exhibition poster above), via the wonderful archaeological field sketches of alumnus Harry Mengden Scarth (1814-90), to an array of hugely popular natural history publications, the 19th century’s passion for discovery is evident throughout.