PREVIEW: James Cook: The Voyages, British Library

The British Library’s latest exhibition marks the 250th anniversary since James Cook’s ship Endeavour set sail from Plymouth. 


Featuring  original maps, artworks and journals as well as  contemporary films, James Cook: The Voyages will allow visitors to follow the course of his voyages and consider their legacy.

Highlights of the exhibition include: paintings depicting Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia by the Polynesian high priest and navigator Tupaia, the first chart of New Zealand by James Cook as well as specimens from the first voyage, including the mouth parts of a squid, on loan from the Royal College of Surgeons.

Meanwhile, the exhibition will also feature depictions of people and landscapes by expedition artists Sydney Parkinson, John Webber and William Hodges, taking visitors on a journey from the Pacific Ocean to the Antarctic.

James Cook: The Voyages will chart the explorer’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 closely examine the different perspectives of the voyages including those on board the ships to those who saw them arrive on their shores, and will consider their legacy and relevance today.

Talking about the exhibition, William Frame, co-curator of James Cook: The Voyages at the British Library, said: “The British Library holds many iconic artworks, charts and handwritten journals from James Cook’s voyages and the exhibition displays the most famous of these together, alongside key loans, for the first time in a generation. Through the exhibition and accompanying public programme visitors will be able to consider different perspectives on the voyages and to reflect on their meaning today.”

James Cook: The Voyages is on display at the British Library until the 28th August. For more information visit:


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