James Cook: The Voyages

British Library

27 April – 28 August 2018

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A major exhibition marking 250 years since James Cook’s ship Endeavour set sail from Plymouth.

Alexander Buchan, A View of the Endeavour’s Watering Place in the Bay of Good Success, 1769

This exhibition explores Cook’s three world-changing voyages through stunning artworks, original maps and handwritten journals.

From iconic depictions of people and landscapes by expedition artists Sydney Parkinson, John Webber and William Hodges to an evocative collection of drawings by Polynesian high priest and navigator Tupaia, which are going on display together for the first time, James Cook: The Voyages will take visitors on a journey of discovery, from the Pacific Ocean to the Antarctic.

The exhibition will chart Cook’s three voyages, from the Endeavour setting sail from Plymouth in 1768 to the Resolution and Discovery returning to Britain in 1780 after Cook’s death in Hawaii. It will explore different perspectives on the voyages, from those on board the ships to those who saw them arrive on their shores, and will consider their legacy and relevance today.

Highlights include the first chart of New Zealand by James Cook; the first artworks depicting the Antarctic by William Hodges on loan from the State Library of New South Wales, which will be reunited for the first time in 100 years with James Cook’s handwritten journal entry describing the first crossing of the Antarctic Circle; specimens from the first voyage, including the mouth parts of a squid, on loan from the Royal College of Surgeons; jewellery and musical instruments, including a necklace from Tierra del Fuego, ceremonial rattle from Nootka Sound (Vancouver Island) and bamboo flute from Tahiti; and natural history drawings, including the first European depiction of a kangaroo.

Venue information

Opening times

Main building

Mon – Thu, 9.30am – 8pm

Fri, 9.30am –​6pm (Sat until 5pm)

​Sun, 11am-5pm

Treasures Gallery and PACCAR exhibitions

Tue –Thu, 9.30am-8pm, Mon & Fri until 6pm, Sat until 5pm, Sun 11am – 5pm

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