Talks & Courses

Ethnographic collecting and the politics of restitution on Matthew Flinders’ Australian voyages, 1798–1803

This talk discusses contested practices of collecting and restitution on-board Matthew Flinders’ early Australian voyages. Though Flinders and his crew acquired numerous Indigenous Australian objects, an array of moral and philosophical considerations soon brought about their return. Surviving records of an encounter at Fraser Island in 1802 suggest that early nineteenth-century concerns about object collecting were not, therefore, altogether dissimilar to museum debates about object repatriation occurring today. 

‘The sort of thing that appeals to scientists’: interpreting expedition photography for public exhibition

Polar expeditions of the early 1900s interlaced experimental scientific photography (multiple and flashlight exposures) with the work of professional travel photographers. Expedition ephemera – newspaper reports, posters, lantern slides, catalogues – reveal a social history of polar exploration in public exhibition.

Reconstructing Sir Humphrey Gilbert

Our understanding of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, despite his relative celebrity as a pioneer of Anglophone Empire, has been distorted because different aspects of his life have been compartmentalised one from another. This paper pieces Gilbert back together and considers the new and startling things a reconstructed Sir Humphrey can tell us about Elizabethan politics, political thinking and society.

A Nation of Tea Drinkers: British Culture and the Global Tea Trade

During the eighteenth-century, tea went from being an expensive, exotic luxury to an everyday item consumed everywhere in Britain, from the palace to the cottage. Join Professor Markman Ellis as he explores this fascinating, world-changing commodity. How did the British become known as a nation of tea drinkers, in a period when all tea was imported half way round the world from China? How did the consumption of tea become a ‘performance’ in fashionable society, with its own rituals and ceremonies?

Saving our Ships: How to Conserve Historic Vessels

Historic vessels are an important part of our national heritage but preserving them requires funding, expertise and a lot of hard work. Hear about the challenges presented by these complex objects and the histories behind them.

Our expert panel brings together decades of experience working on and with historic vessels. They will discuss their day-to-day work with ships like Cutty Sark, now approaching its 150th birthday, as well as what the future may hold.

How to Live in Space

This event was originally scheduled to take place on 16 November. Due to unforseen circumstances this event will be rescheduled. If you are interested in attending in the future please contact our bookings team by email:

Based on the book of the same name, How to Live in Space is your ultimate guide to the future of human space travel. Learn about astronaut training, the practicalities of everyday life in orbit and look ahead to space tourism, moon bases and a voyage to Mars.


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