Neil Rigby, Pieter van der Merwe, Glyn Williams Adlard Coles/national Maritime Museum
Three centuries of European exploration are narrated here: from Balboa striding into the ‘Mar del Sud’ to Fitzroy’s laborious, essential surveys of the Patagonian coast. From Antarctic to Arctic via the Society Islands and Australasia, James Cook is the dominant figure. The pre-cook years are only briefly sketched but the accounts of navigators who followed in his wake testify to the inspirational effect of his voyages as well as their contribution to knowledge. Completing the story with Darwin in the Galapagos Islands presents this period of exploration as pivotal to our understanding, not only of an ocean, but of our place in the universe.