Expeditions and Endeavours – Natural History Museum


Exhibitions / Events Category: Exhibitions and Free to See

  • For centuries, scientists and artists have embarked on a succession of expeditions to document the natural world.

    The observations of flora and fauna made by the artists on these voyages of natural history have contributed greatly to our understanding of nature.

    On display until October 2019, the exhibition content will rotate every four months, giving you a rare opportunity to see remarkable never-before-displayed original illustrations and photographs.

    Exhibit highlights include:

    • artworks from Captain Cook’s Endeavour voyage (1768-1771), with illustrations from the Society Islands (Tahiti), Australia, New Zealand and Java, Indonesia by Sydney Parkinson, Alexander Buchan and Herman Spöring. Botanical specimens collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander are also on display. This year marks 250 years since the voyage departed England on 25 August 1768.
    • interactive screens, where you can explore a variety of artworks from the Museum’s collections

    Highlights from each rotation include:

    Rotation one: July – November 2018

    • a bundle of printed pages from John Milton’s book Paradise Lost that was used to press collected specimens on the Endeavour voyage
    • an illustration by John Webber, from Cook’s third voyage, of a Kerguelen Island cabbage – whose leaves’ high potassium- and vitamin C-rich oil meant its consumption helped the ship’s crews suffering from scurvy, as discovered by Cook’s surgeon William Anderson

    Rotation two: November 2018 – March 2019

    • artworks of flora and fauna from all three of Captain Cook’s voyages to the Pacific
    • koalas drawn by Ferdinand Bauer on the HMS Investigator voyage captained by Matthew Flinders – the first detailed scientific description of the koala was by botanist Robert Brown in 1814
    • illustrations by early North American naturalists including William Bartram, William Young and John Abbot

    Rotation three: March – July 2019

    • photographs and illustrations from the HMS Challenger voyage
    • the graphite illustrations by Joseph Dalton Hooker of emperor penguin embryos are from one of the three eggs collected in 1911 during the Terra Nova expedition to the Antarctic on HMS Erebus
    • the earliest illustration of whales held in the Museum’s collections, by trained doctor and surgeon Sigismund Bacstrom, whose artistic works show precision and accuracy

    Rotation four: July – October 2019

    • depictions of African flora and fauna by Thomas Baines and Margaret Fountaine, and a seventeenth-century watercolour from the Museum’s collection of Cape plants illustrations
    • botanical and zoological illustrations from the Museum’s Thomas Hardwicke collection
    • artworks of Sydney Parkinson (1745-1771), naturalist artist on board the Endeavour voyage (1768-1771)

    FREE.  Drop in


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