20 March 2015
Two modern-day geniuses, Professor Stephen Hawking and Sir David Attenborough visited the University of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries today to open the Marks of Genius exhibition at the newly renovated Weston Library.
The celebrated physicist and distinguished broadcaster and naturalist joined donors and special guests to mark the launch of the first exhibition to be held in the Bodleian's new Weston Library, which opens to the public tomorrow (21 March).
'The works featured in the Bodleian Libraries' Marks of Genius exhibition truly are the product of genius – be it Einstein, Newton or Shakespeare,' said Stephen Hawking. 'I hope that thousands of people, young and old, will visit the exhibition and be inspired to develop ideas of their own, to experiment, try out new ways of thinking, and share their ideas with others. Who knows - perhaps the Bodleian's exhibition will stimulate the next Euclid, Newton, or Dorothy Hodgkin to put down their ideas on paper or pixels and make new "Marks of Genius."'
Hawking, who is best known for his ground-breaking work in theoretical physics, is Director of Research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge. The 73-year-old cosmologist was born in Oxford and was an undergraduate at University College, Oxford before pursuing graduate studies at the University of Cambridge.
The Weston Library opens to the public on 21 March following an £80m renovation by London-based architects Wilkinson Eyre. The refurbishment has turned the Giles Gilbert Scott Grade II-listed building, formerly known as the New Bodleian, into a world-class research library and a public showcase for Bodleian treasures. The new exhibition, Marks of Genius: Masterpieces from the Collections of the Bodleian Libraries, includes an unparalleled collection of books, manuscripts and artefacts that can be called works of genius, ranging from Magna Carta and Shakespeare's First Folio to scientific works by Isaac Newton and Nobel-prize winning chemist Dorothy Hodgkin.
During the visit to the Bodleian, Hawking and Attenborough were presented with the Bodley Medal by Bodley's Librarian, Richard Ovenden and University of Oxford Vice Chancellor Andrew Hamilton. The medal is awarded by the Bodleian Libraries to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the worlds of culture, learning, science and communication. Past winners include writer Alan Bennett, film director Lord Richard Attenborough, inventor of the worldwide web Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the novelist Dame Hilary Mantel.
'I am deeply honoured to receive the Bodley Medal and to be opening the Bodleian's Marks of Genius exhibition,' said Sir David Attenborough. 'The exhibition shows the importance of libraries as places where knowledge is preserved and shared from one generation to the next.'
88-year-old Attenborough is a renowned and distinguished broadcaster known for his popular programmes in wildlife and natural history, and has had a long career at the BBC.