James Cook an the Discovery of the South Seas
May 12 - September 13, 2010
Museum fur Volkerkunde, Neue Burg, Vienna
James Cook (1728-1779) owes his lasting fame to the three circumnavigations of the globe he undertook between 1768 and 1779 in his attempt to locate the mythical southern continent and the Northwest Passage. Accompanied by a team of scientists and artists, these journeys also served geo-strategic interests. While the scientists helped to increase our knowledge of the world based on reason, the pictures and reports of other travellers helped to create a romantic image of the South Pacific as a far-flung and free island paradise. Cook’s violent death on Hawaii, islands he himself had discovered earlier, helped turn him in the eyes of his contemporaries into a hero of the European conquest of the world.
With over 500 exhibits from European museums and private collections the exhibition documents both James Cook’s journeys to the end of the world and their results. It showcases precious cultural documents from the peoples of the Pacific archipelago and the north-western coast of North America, among them impressive feather images, decorated bark cloth and carvings, as well as every-day objects. Together with paintings and drawings executed in the course of the journeys they document a South Pacific as yet untouched by the West, and the adventure of the eighteenth century’s most spectacular voyage of exploration.
For more information, please visit the Museum fur Volkerkunde website.