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British Library’s James Cook exhibition on display from April 27


The British Library in London is hosting a major exhibition of items associated with explorer James Cook.
Titled James Cook: The Voyages, the show tells his story using original maps, artefacts and contemporary journal entries.

Cook made three major voyages during his lifetime, aboard the Endeavour (1768-1771), the Resolution (1772-1775) and the Discovery (1776-1779).

During this time he mapped a vast area of the Pacific and Antarctic. He also made the first European contact with Australia’s east coast and Hawaii, where he was killed after trying to kidnap a tribal chief in 1779.

One of the charts James Cook made of New Zealand (Image: British Library)

Some of the biggest highlights of the exhibition will be the samples Cook and his crew captured on their journeys, including the preserved beak of a squid, as well as the earliest known European depiction of kangaroo.

There are also drawings from Tupaia, the Polynesian tribal chief who joined the Endeavour when it stopped off at Tahiti in 1769 and who served as an interpreter and expert navigator on the journey to New Zealand and Australia.

William Frame, co-curator of the exhibition, explained: “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.”

The exhibition will run at the British Library’s PACCAR Gallery from April 27 to August 28.

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