Joseph Banks, Science, Culture and the Remaking of the Indo-Pacific World commenced on 1 June 2016, and is led by the National Maritime Museum and University College London, together with project partners the Royal Society, the National Portrait Gallery, the Natural History Museum, and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

A programme of three workshops and a conference will include early-career and established scholars from the academic and heritage sectors who will draw in the histories of science, exploration, art, material culture and the environment, and engage closely with a range of key public collections.

The ultimate aim of the network alongside other outputs, is to develop a major grant application that will be able to absorb a more integrated and complex vision of Banks, in the build-up to the 200th anniversary of his death that will take place in 2020.

Steering committee

The project programme is being co-ordinated by:

  • Nigel Rigby (National Maritime Museum), PI
  • Simon Werrett (University College, London), CI
  • Jordan Goodman (University College London)
  • Lucy Peltz (National Portrait Gallery)
  • Keith Moore (Royal Society)
  • Mark Carine (Natural  History Museum)
  • Fiona Ainsworth (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew)
  • Sally Archer (National Maritime Museum)

Research outline

Joseph Banks has been a subject of considerable research over the last 20-30 years. In a career spanning more than 50 years he became one of the most influential figures in European science.

Through Banks’s participation in James Cook’s first Pacific voyage (1768–1771), he received much of the credit for descriptions of a ‘new’ and exotic oceanic world that fascinated Europe, and would come to influence the course of European and Pacific science, culture, politics and commerce.

After the voyage, Banks spent the remainder of his career supporting expeditions and forging networks that spanned the Indian and Pacific Oceans, placing him at the heart of accelerating interactions between Pacific, Indian and European peoples.

This funded network project will explore how these interactions transformed the economy, religion, culture and natural knowledge of the region, contributing to a remaking of the Indo-Pacific world.

While many scholars have studied Banks’s activities in specific regions such as China, Australia, or India, this project will develop a more integrated vision of Joseph Banks by locating him in this history of the remaking of the Indo-Pacific world.

Joseph Banks Lecture Series

A series of public lectures on Joseph Banks is taking place from 13 September to 4 October – follow this link for more details 

Conference: Joseph Banks: Science, Culture and Exploration 14-16 September 2017

Booking is now open for a larger, open conference which will take place at the Royal Society on 14–16 September 2017 as the culmination of the network project.

The formal conference proceedings will take place at the Royal Society on 14-15 September and will be followed by an informal study visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew on Saturday 16 September to view Banks related material (more detail of the Kew visit can be found on the Programme accessed below). 

With speakers from a range of disciplines, the conference reflects new research on the global contexts of Banks’s interests, influence and legacies.

We are delighted that the following have agreed to give keynote addresses at the conference:

  • Professor David Igler, University of California, Irvine
  • Professor Kapil Raj, Centre Alexandre-Koyré

Image removed. Download the full programme here

To book for the conference: delegate fees and full booking information is on the Royal Society’s website – please follow this link

There will also be a public lecture loosely related to the themes of the network in the evening of Thursday 14 September at the Royal Society. More details will be available on the Royal Society’s website in the next few weeks.

For any queries about the conference, please contact Sally Archer on

Conference bursaries

With the generous support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, we are able to encourage the participation of postgraduates and early career researchers working in cognate areas by inviting applications for bursaries from both the UK and overseas.

The bursaries will support part or all of travel and accommodation expenses for attendance at the conference: up to a maximum of £250 for UK applicants and up to £500 for overseas applicants. Successful applicants for a bursary will be expected to attend the conference and write a 500-word blog posting on the proceedings. Payment will be made in arrears.

Please send a CV, a paragraph on why you would like to attend and how much money you would like to apply for (with details of what that would cover).  Email to: Sally Archer on

Deadline for bursary applications: Monday 17 July

Other Network activities

In addition to the formal programme of events above, Network committee members and others have been instrumental in a number of wider academic and public activities relating to the themes of the Joseph Banks network:

  • Jordan Goodman, UCL, published an article in February 2017 entitled ‘After Cook: Joseph Banks and his travelling plants, 1787–1810’ in The Historian, a journal published by the Historical Association, which is subscribed to by history schoolteachers in the UK.
  • Simon Werrett, UCL, and Mark Carine, Natural History Museum, have been awarded a Summer studentship from UCL’s Department of Science and Technology Studies for a student to work on Banks’s British Herbarium.
  • On 30 March the Westminster Library ‘Salon for the City’ hosted by Stephen Coates enjoyed a sold-out salon on ‘London’s Natural Histories’ with UCL’s Simon Werrett and the Guardian’s Martin Rowson. Simon’s talk, ‘Crawling King Caterpillar: Portraying Joseph Banks in the Eighteenth Century’ discussed the impact of portraits and satirical caricatures of Banks that circulated during his lifetime. Next up was Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson who spoke about the history of London Zoo and the value of zoos for London life. Discussion then followed, lubricated by gin, on subjects ranging from pygmy hippo poo to the value of thrift in science and what animals would be good for caricaturing politicians today.
  • On 9 March Nigel Rigby gave a talk to the Cruising Association on ‘Captain Cook and Joseph Banks’ in Lenham.
  • Nigel Rigby and Katy Barrett, the lead curators on the National Maritime Museum’s forthcoming ‘Pacific Encounters’ gallery (2018) have brought together workshop attendees and other specialists with audience development personnel and local groups of Pacific origin. Groups of academics and local people have been shown and responded to indigenous objects scheduled for the gallery. A key interface has been the ‘pop-up shop’ in Lewisham shopping centre loaned free of charge by the owners to the Museum. The ‘Pacific Encounters’ gallery is benefiting from a more nuanced view of Banks as a result of the papers and discussions in the three network workshops. In addition, activities related to the Network’s themes of the Pacific, Cook, Banks and natural history collecting have been occurring at the NMM over the past couple of years as a result of the activity plan related to the HLF-funded acquisition of George Stubbs’s Kongorou and Dingo.
  • Keith Moore, Royal Society, attended the opening of the New Zealand national exhibition ‘Emissaries’ at the Venice Biennale, 9-12 May 2017. The artist Lisa Reihana incorporated Cook-related museum objects from the Royal Society into her narrative video installation In Pursuit of Venus (Infected). Keith contributed a short essay, ‘Teardrops, time and mariners’ to the exhibition catalogue and Julie Maxton, the Royal Society’s Executive Director gave a keynote speech noting Joseph Banks in the Pacific. The artwork will be shown at the Royal Academy’s ‘Oceania’ exhibition in London, 2018.      
  •  In May Jordan Jordan Goodman co-organized an international symposium at the Oak Spring Library, Virginia on the Chinese drawings of John Bradby Blake and spoke about the significance and use of a set of these drawings that Joseph Banks owned and which are now in the Natural History Museum, London.

Programme of workshops

In the first part of the Network project, from November 2016 to February 2017, three very successful two-day workshops were hosted by UCL, National Portrait Gallery and NMM, each bringing together 25-30 scholars on an invited basis, with a limited number of ‘open’ spaces. A number of AHRC-funded bursaries for post-graduates were also available for each workshop.

The workshops have enabled us to build a network of over 120 individuals with research and general interests in Banks and his worlds.

Workshop 1: Rethinking Joseph Banks: New Directions for Research

10-11 November 2016, University College London (UCL)

The historiography of Joseph Banks was considered, including Banks and the Indo-Pacific World; and Banks, science and empire.

Convenor: Simon Werrett, UCL.


  • Janet Browne, Harvard University
  • Jordan Goodman, UCL
  • David Lambert, University of Warwick
  • Edwin Rose, University of Cambridge
  • Amiria Salmond, University of Auckland
  • Daniel Simpson, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Sujit Sivasundaram, University of Cambridge
  • Vanessa Smith, University of Sydney

Workshop 2: Science, Self-fashioning and Representation in Joseph Banks’s Circles

26-27 January 2017, the National Portrait Gallery

This workshop focused on:

  • Banks, image making and representation
  • The spaces and symbols of scientific sociability
  • Patronage, specimens and scientific networks.

Convenor: Lucy Peltz, National Portrait Gallery


  • John Bonehill, University of Glasgow
  • Alex Deans, University of Glasgow
  • Sarah Easterby Smith, University of St Andrews
  • Patricia Fara, University of Cambridge
  • Jordan Goodman, UCL
  • Michelle Hetherington, National Museum of Australia
  • Nick Thomas, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge
  • Carl Thompson, St Mary’s University, Twickenham
  • Beth Tobin, Georgia University
  • Ruth Scobie, University of Oxford

Workshop 3: The maritime worlds of Joseph Banks

17-18 February 2017, National Maritime Museum (NMM)

This workshop focused on Banks’s maritime world, examining his role and influence in the scientific exploration of the Indo-Pacific region in both British and European contexts through state-funded, private and commercial voyages.

It explored the material, visual and literary cultures linking Banks to exploration, and his vision for the establishment and integration of overseas colonies for the purpose of furthering scientific endeavour.


  • Robert Batchelor, Georgia Southern University
  • Daniel Clayton, University of St Andrews
  • James Davey, National Maritime Museum
  • Tim Fulford, de Montfort University
  • Jordan Goodman, UCL
  • John McAleer, University of Southampton
  • Katherine Parker, University of Pittsburgh
  • Geoff Quilley, University of Sussex

Contact Us

For all enquiries about the Joseph Banks Network please contact:

Sally Archer, Project Co-ordinator: