The Art and Science of Exploration, 1768–80 (Past events)

A past exhibition of exceptional art by specially commissioned artists on Captain Cook’s 18th-century voyages of discovery.

This exhibition ran from 7 August 2014 to 26 July 2015, and featured exceptional paintings, prints and drawings by commissioned artists on Captain Cook’s 18th-century voyages of discovery. These works influenced forever how the European public saw the Pacific.

George Stubbs' paintings

Imagine trying to paint an animal that you’ve never seen. The exhibition was inspired by our two newly-acquired paintings by George Stubbs from Captain Cook's first Pacific voyage – the first depictions of a kangaroo and a dingo in Western art. 

Captain Cook's voyages of exploration

Cook brought back accounts and images of extraordinary lands, peoples, flora and fauna. Artists played a crucial role on his three voyages of discovery, producing both scientific records and imaginative responses to the unfamiliar lands that he encountered.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Art Fund and Arts & Humanities Research Council, The Art & Science of Exploration, 1768-80 brought together paintings, prints and drawings by Stubbs, William Hodges, John Webber and Johann Zoffany, along with loans from the Natural History Museum and choice pieces from the recently acquired collection of more than 700 engraved botanical prints by Sydney Parkinson. 

Explore objects from Cook's voyages of exploration in our collections
Cook's First Voyage - Cook’s voyage on the Endeavour ship set out to search for the unknown continent
Cook's Second Voyage - Cook is joined by two astronomers appointed by the Board of Longitude
Cook's Third Voyage - Cook comes out of retirement for his third and final voyage to the Pacific
Death of Captain Cook - the mast of Cook’s ship, the Resolution, is damaged in a storm forcing him to make a fateful return to Hawaii