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Masaryk University opens new exhibition about Mendel. Shows originals from USA

A new perspective on the life and work of the father of genetics and a unique collection of exhibits.

Among the unique exhibits, visitors will discover a ring that Mendel wore as abbot and a Knight’s Cross that Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria gave to Mendel for his services to society.

After half a year of preparations, the Mendel Museum of Masaryk University has opened a new permanent exhibition which presents Gregor Johann Mendel (1822–84), the founder of genetics, in a new light, principally as a student of various fields in his lifetime.

Among the unique exhibits, visitors will discover a ring that Mendel wore as abbot of the Augustinian Abbey of Old Brno and a Knight’s Cross that Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria gave to the famous geneticist for his services to society.

“The exhibition would like to take visitors to distant places and show them original documents they are not able to find easily. That’s why shots of Mendel's birthplace Hynčice, places where Mendel conducted his studies and original documents archived in the USA are projected on special glass panels,” says Ondřej Dostál, director of the museum, who adds that the exhibition does not present a romantic picture of Mendel the monk – as has tended to be the case – but shows him as an ordinary man with strengths and weaknesses.   

During the opening ceremony for the new exhibition, held on 23 July, a chest where people put messages for future generations was buried in front of the museum. The chest should be opened not earlier than half a century from now. “In the chest future generations will find an interview with Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse, for instance,” added Dostál.

The Mendel Museum is situated at the very place where Mendel made his epoch-making discoveries. It was taken over by Masaryk University in 2007. Besides promotion of Mendel’s legacy, the museum hosts the internationally renowned Mendel Lectures, where Nobel Prize winners give lectures to students. The garden where Mendel conducted his experiments with pea plants, which led to a description of the rules of heredity, also belongs to the museum.