2018 marks the 250th an­niver­sary of Cook's maiden voy­age to dis­cover the south­ern con­ti­nent. Claire Pitcher looks at what some of the coun­try's mu­se­ums and towns have planned to cel­e­brate our mar­itime past.

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2018 marks the 250th an­niver­sary of Cook's maiden voy­age to dis­cover the south­ern con­ti­nent, we look at mu­se­ums and towns celebrating our mar­itime past.

THE YEAR IS 1768, and Bri­tain is in the throes of the Age of En­light­en­ment. This is the year Cap­tain James Cook sets sail on a voy­age of dis­cov­ery in search of terra aus­tralis incog­nita – the un­known south­ern con­ti­nent, as Euro­peans called it. What Cook and his crew en­counter on ar­rival is a vast num­ber of is­land civil­i­sa­tions cov­er­ing al­most a third of the world’s sur­face: from Tahiti in Poly­ne­sia, to the scat­tered ar­chi­pel­a­gos and is­lands of Me­lane­sia and Mi­crone­sia. Two-hun­dred-and-fifty years later and some of the coun­try’s best mar­itime mu­se­ums will be celebrating Cook’s tri­umphs in 2018. Not only that, but brand­new ex­hi­bi­tions and gal­leries will be tak­ing their own maiden voy­ages, fo­cus­ing on ex­plor­ing the oceans, as well as some of the more har­row­ing tales from the high seas. From his­tor­i­cal maps chart­ing Cook’s ex­pe­di­tion of dis­cov­ery to a replica of the Ti­tanic’s No 13 lifeboat, there’s never been more op­por­tu­nity to dive in to our mar­itime his­tory.

Ocea­nia’s art in Lon­don

Lon­don’s Royal Academy will also be com­mem­o­rat­ing the 250-year an­niver­sary. From 29th Septem­ber to 10th De­cem­ber, go and see the daz­zling and di­verse art of the re­gion of Ocea­nia, from the his­toric to the con­tem­po­rary. Through more than 250 com­pelling works rang­ing from shell, green­stone and ce­ramic or­na­ments, to huge ca­noes and daz­zling house fa­cades, you can ex­plore im­por­tant themes of voy­ag­ing, place mak­ing, en­counter and union. The ex­hi­bi­tion draws from rich his­toric ethno­graphic col­lec­tions dat­ing from the 18th cen­tury to the present, span­ning trea­sures from the an­cient past through to work by Lisa Rei­hana, a con­tem­po­rary artist of Maori and Bri­tish de­scent from New Zealand. The ex­hi­bi­tion also marks the 250th an­niver­sary of the Royal Academy; founded in 1768, the same year Cap­tain James Cook set sail on his first ex­pe­di­tion from Ply­mouth on the En­deav­our. Find out more at roy­ala­

En­deav­our sails to Whitby

One of the most fa­mous ships in the his­tory of mar­itime ex­plo­ration will voy­age along the North York Moors coast to Whitby this sum­mer. In Au­gust last year, a part­ner­ship led by Whitby busi­ness­man An­drew Fid­dler pur­chased HM Bark En­deav­our, one of only two full-scale repli­cas in the world of the ship com­manded by explorer Cap­tain James Cook for his voy­age to Aus­tralia and New Zealand. The part­ner­ship’s auc­tion bid of £155,000 safe­guarded the replica’s fu­ture as a North East vis­i­tor at­trac­tion, hav­ing beaten com­pet­ing bids that could have seen the ship moved to Portsmouth, Lon­don or Dubai. Mr Fid­dler plans to spend nearly £750,000 re­fur­bish­ing and re­pair­ing the 33-me­tre long Teesside-built ship and then re­lo­cat­ing it to where the orig­i­nal En­deav­our was built in 1764. It’s now just a case of care­fully work­ing out a com­plex pro­gramme for sen­si­tively re­fur­bish­ing the ship so that once again HM Bark En­deav­our can tell the story of life at sea in the 18th cen­tury. Take a trip to the North York Moors Na­tional Park this sum­mer to see the replica in all its glory. Also in Whitby, visit the Cook Me­mo­rial Mu­seum for a spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tion en­ti­tled ‘Whitby in the time of Cook, the mak­ing of a great sea­man’ which will be dis­played in the at­tic where the Mas­ter Mariner, John Walker lodged James Cook when not at sea dur­ing his ap­pren­tice­ship. It will ex­plain the debt Cook owed to Whitby as he sailed from Ply­mouth 250 years ago. Find out more at cook­mu­se­

New en­coun­ters at the Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum

If you’re hun­gry to know more about the world’s ex­plor­ers then this Septem­ber’s open­ing of the Ex­plo­ration Wing at the Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum Green­wich should be a date for your di­ary. Vis­i­tors can pe­ruse four new gal­leries span­ning Pa­cific and Po­lar ex­plo­ration and Bri­tain’s mar­itime past. Dis­cover ‘Pa­cific En­coun­ters’; ‘Po­lar Worlds’; ‘Tu­dor and Stu­art Sea­far­ers’; and ‘Sea Things’, plus a thou­sand ad­di­tional ob­jects will be brought out of the Mu­seum’s col­lec­tions. All of th­ese will be housed in ar­eas of the Mu­seum that vis­i­tors were un­able to see be­fore. A must visit will be the ‘Pa­cific En­coun­ters’ gallery, which tells tales of ex­plo­ration and ex­ploita­tion, as Euro­pean trav­ellers ven­tured into the vast ocean. The gallery will dis­play ob­jects from the voy­ages of renowned fig­ures, such as Cap­tain Cook, along­side a full size Pa­cific voy­ag­ing ca­noe - putting the mu­seum’s col­lec­tions into the broader con­text of Pa­cific his­to­ries, iden­ti­ties, and the lega­cies of th­ese early en­coun­ters in the Pa­cific to­day. Dis­cover more at

Set course to the Bri­tish Li­brary

The Bri­tish Li­brary holds one the most ex­ten­sive and com­pelling col­lec­tions of orig­i­nal doc­u­ments and works of art from James Cook’s voy­ages. A land­mark ex­hi­bi­tion, open from 27th April to 28th Au­gust, ‘James Cook: The Voy­ages’ will be a ‘once in a generation’ op­por­tu­nity to see the col­lec­tion on dis­play. The Li­brary’s col­lec­tion in­cludes Cook’s chartrt of Botany Bay, his map of New Zealand, and a world map made af­terfter the sec­ond voy­age show­ing the course of the Res­o­lu­tion and the land­sands vis­ited en route. There are also draw­ings by all of the artists em­ployed­ployed on the voy­ages, and the only sur­viv­ing paint­ings by Tu­paia, a Poly­ne­sianoly­ne­sian high priest and nav­i­ga­tor who joined the first voy­age at Tahi­ti­ahiti and sailed with Cook to New Zealand and Aus­tralia. The Li­braryry also holds sev­eral orig­i­nal log­books and jour­nals, which pro­vide vivid eye­wit­ness ac­counts of the voy­ages. Th­ese will be ex­hib­it­eded along­side key loans that com­ple­ment the Li­brary’s col­lec­tion and that have not been dis­played to­gether be­fore. Find out more at

Ti­tanic tales in Corn­wall

If you’re plan­ning a sum­mer visit to the south west then a trip to Fal­mouth’s Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum is a must. Their ma­jor new ex­hi­bi­tion ‘Ti­tanic Sto­ries’, ex­am­ines the sto­ries of the Ti­tanic’s mo­men­tous sink­ing on 15th April 1912, re-ap­prais­ing many of the myths, con­tro­ver­sies and as­sump­tions that still linger around one of the most well known his­toric events of the 20th cen­tury. Work­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tionc with pri­vate col­lec­tors from over­seas and na­tional mu­se­ums mu in the UK, ‘Ti­tanic Sto­ries’ presents rare and never-seen­be­fore bef ob­jects and items, as well as retelling the personal sto­ries of mmany of the sur­vivors, vic­tims and de­scen­dants of the Ti­tanic dis­as­ter, dis in­clud­ing those from Corn­wall. In ad­di­tion to the many his­toric his ob­jects, the mu­seum will also com­mis­sion a num­ber of largescale sca new in­stal­la­tion pieces which will go on dis­play in its gal­leries, in­clud­ing inc an ex­act, life-size replica of Lifeboat 13, made by spe­cial­ist boat boa builders in Fal­mouth as well as work­ing with a Cor­nish-based artist art to cre­ate a vis­ually-stun­ning rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the ice­berg sus­pended sus over the lifeboat. Find out more at

Prints Pr at Pitt Rivers

At tthe Pitt Rivers Mu­seum in Ox­ford, from the end of May to 29th Septem­ber, Sep they will be com­mem­o­rat­ing 250 years since Cook’s voy­age, voy with an ex­hi­bi­tion of ‘Prints from Cook’s Voy­ages’. The Mu­seum Mu holds about 170 prints re­lat­ing to the Cook Voy­age which have hav not been ex­hib­ited be­fore. Th­ese prints are from en­grav­ings, which wh were used to il­lus­trate both of­fi­cial and un­of­fi­cial ac­counts of tthe voy­ages. As well as th­ese never-seen-be­fore prints, there are over ove 150 ob­jects in the Cook Col­lec­tion to see at the mu­seum, a lot of wwhich were col­lected in the South Pa­cific by Jo­hann Forster and his son dur­ing James Cook’s sec­ond voy­age to search for a south­ern con­ti­nent. con From weapons to wooden fig­urines, the ‘Cook Case’ is just jus a snap­shot of what the explorer must have seen on his trav­els. Find Fin out more about this com­mem­o­ra­tive ex­hi­bi­tion at

Cook the explorer

James Cook first went to sea at the age of 18. He spent 10 years work­ing in the coal trade of the east coast of Eng­land. In 1755 he joined the Royal Navy, and within two years passed his mas­ter’s ex­am­i­na­tion to qual­ify for the navigation and han­dling of a royal ship. He gained sur­vey­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in North Amer­i­can wa­ters dur­ing the Seven Years War and spent the first years of peace be­tween 1763 and 1767 chart­ing the coast of New­found­land. Dur­ing those years he gained a prac­ti­cal train­ing in maths and astron­omy, and gained the tech­ni­cal skills to make an ef­fec­tive explorer. As he wrote, he in­tended to go not only ‘far­ther than any man has been be­fore me, but as far as I think it pos­si­ble for man to go’. Cook’s first voy­age was a joint ven­ture un­der the aus­pices of the Ad­mi­ralty and the Royal So­ci­ety. The orig­i­nal in­ten­tion was to or­gan­ise a sci­en­tific voy­age to ob­serve the tran­sit of the planet Venus from Tahiti, and this was ap­pended by in­struc­tions to search for the great south­ern con­ti­nent, Terra Aus­tralis Incog­nita, whose lo­ca­tion had baf­fled Euro­pean nav­i­ga­tors and pro­jec­tors since the 16th cen­tury. With Lieu­tenant Cook (as he was at that time) sailed the botanist Joseph Banks, as­tronomer Charles Green, and a small num­ber of sci­en­tific as­sis­tants and artists. Cook’s ship, the En­deav­our, was a bluff-bowed Whitby col­lier cho­sen for her strength, shal­low draught, and stor­age ca­pac­ity. By the end of his first voy­age Cook had put over 5,000 miles of pre­vi­ously un­known coast­line on the map. The twin is­lands of New Zealand, the east coast of Aus­tralia and the Tor­res Strait had been un­veiled to the world.

Pic­tured top-left to bot­tom-right; Whitby's HM Bark En­deav­our replica of Cap­tain Cook's Ship; Bare Is­land which was once a de­fence post close to where Cap­tain James Cook first landed in Aus­tralia and now a great tourist haunt; Cap­tain James Cook,...

Pic­tured top-left to bot­tom-right; Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum; Pa­cific En­coun­ters at Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum; Prints from Cook’s Voy­ages, at the Pitt Rivers Mu­seum; Ti­tanic Dis­play at Fal­mouth’s Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum; Tahi­tian Scene by Tu­paia and...

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