There is still plenty of time for visitors to the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby to enjoy this year’s exhibition, From Kamchatka to Krakatoa: the Cook Voyages in Asia.
We do not often associate Cook with Asia but in fact he stopped at Batavia (modern Jakarta, Indonesia) on his way home from the first voyage.
On the third voyage, after a failed attempt to find anorth west passage between the Pacificand the Atlantic, his crew travelled down the eastern coast of Asia after Cook’s death in Hawai’i.
Despite the loss of Cook, this voyage was asuccess in many ways.
New islands and coasts were charted, peoples and their ways of life were described and many plant specimens collected. At this time, Europeans were very keen to develop trade with China for valuable commodities such as silks, porcelain and spices.
The voyagers discovered that sea otter pelts, brought from the North West coast of America, were highly prized in China and this might help to open up trade between the east and the west.
Voyage artist John Webber documented a great dealof what was found on the third voyage, and his drawings provide a fascinating picture of eastern Asia in the 18th Century seen through the eyes of a European visitor.
Many of his drawings illustrated the official accountof the voyage which was published after their return. This exhibition looks at the Asian coast from Eastern Siberia to Indonesia and includes examples of drawings and artefacts which bring the voyages to life.
From a Siberian costume made from reindeer, aChinese silk jacket and printed Indonesian batik, to an account of the eruption of Krakatoa and the chewing of betel nuts, the exhibition is a celebrationof the wealthof life and culture experienced by thetravelling sailors.
The museum is open this year until Sunday November 5 although it does open by appointment during the winter closure – call (01947) 601900 or email info@cookmuseum whitby.co.uk to arrange this.
Opening times for 2018 are: Saturday February 10 to Friday March 23, 11am to 3pm daily; Saturday March 24 to Sunday November 4, 9.45am to 5pm daily.