The year 2007 will mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carl Linnaeus (in Sweden known by his noble name, von Linné). He was, of course, already in his life-time, all overEuropea famous botanist and zoologist and probably the most well-known Swede who ever walked this earth. Linnaeus developed the binary method of classifying plants that 300 years later is still in use.
Linnaeus was born on May 23, 1707 in the smallvillageofRåshultin southern Sweden, the son of a clergyman who himself was an avid amateur botanist. While Carl Linnaeus attended school in the nearest town, Växjö, he encountered a teacher who was well versed in the scientific literature of the time and much encouraged his main interest in life.
After some formative years atUppsalaUniversityandHollandhe settled in Uppsala as a professor of medicine. During the last 40 years of his life he worked prodigiously and published a great number of books in the natural sciences, mostly but not only in the field of botany. The first edition of his “Systema Naturae" (1735) comprised some twenty folio pages, the twelfth edition in 1766 almost 2.500 pages! In the early 1750´s he named over 8.000 plants that he and his nearly twenty disciples (half of whom died on their strenuous journeys) had, during their expeditions which Linnaeus initiated and helped organize, collected all over the world. One of his disciples was, Daniel Solander who travelled with James Cook´s first expedition 1768-1771 and settled in London.
So it is only natural that Sweden will celebrate its perhaps most well-known son. The celebrations will, in the presence of HM the King and HM the Queen, start in the city of Växjö on January 28, 2007 and continue all over Sweden throughout the year, ending in the far north of the country in December, in remembrance of Linnaeus´ journey to Lapland in 1732. The main event will take place the day of his anniversary at Uppsala, at the University as well as at the Castle.
In addition to a set of national days of celebration there will be exhibitions, an as it were official book on Linnaeus by Nils Uddenberg, which book is translated also into English and a few other languages. A film, “Expedition Linné" is prepared by Matthias Klum who has worked for National Geographic. Moreover many seminars and scientific conferences will also be held. The main botanical gardens in Sweden will also note the anniversary in different ways.
Carl Linnaeus will also in various ways figure abroad in some 15 countries which he or his disciples visited. In the UK there will be several events, not least a tribute to Linnaeus by Swedish landscape architect Ulf Nordfjell at the Chelsea Flower Show in May, and also arrangements in cooperation with the Linnean Society in Piccadilly, where a good part of the Linnaeus collections are kept. The botanical gardens inEdinburghas well asCardiffwill also have exhibitions as might KewGardens.
Two other countries of high priority are theNetherlandsand Japan. Linnaeus spent three years inHollandfrom 1735-1738 where he took his doctoral degree at HarderwijkUniversity in 1735 and published a series of important works while he worked with the garden of a local businessman, Georg Clifford. Here the opening of the famous tulip festival at Keukenhof in March will celebrate Linnaeus in various ways. A host of other exhibitions and seminars will be held all over the Netherlands. Japan will also be country of clear focus. Linnaeus´ pupil and successor as professor atUppsalaUniversity , Carl Petter Thunberg, wrote the first flora ofJapanalready in the 1780´s.The Linnaeus legacy will be a focus inTokyoin March with several exhibitions at the ScienceMuseum.
The aim of the National Linnaeus Committee is not only to remind us of Linnaeus´ scientific achievements but perhaps foremost to try to look forward, to reignite interest in the natural sciences generally. He was in many ways also a pioneer in ecology, which a national school project will remind us about.
We should to-day remember what systematic, relentless scientific endeavours and hard work, which was very much the trade mark of Carl Linnaeus, could accomplish already 300 years ago.