Two Māori hand clubs

A bigger picture

Cook was one of many explorers in the late 18th century and early 19th century. Sir Joseph Banks, as President of the Royal Society, played a vital role in funding several of these voyages. All the objects below were given to Banks, which he then donated to the British Museum, or were from expeditions supported by him. This selection offers different perspectives on exploration: objects acquired from the various peoples and places explorers encountered, the different types of collection made – clothing, symbols of power, transport, as well as modes of navigation - and how these explorations were represented in printed media.

Hawaiian helmet


Hawaiian helmet made of the red, yellow and black feathers of birds; possibly collected by Cook and given to Joseph Banks.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=514692&partId=1&searchText=Oc,HAW.108&page=1

Dress from the Society Islands


Dress from the Society Islands worn by a chief mourner on the death of an important person; collected on Cook’s second voyage.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=514664&partId=1&searchText=Dress+from+the+Society+Islands&page=1

Wooden bowl


Wooden bowl from the Haida people of northern British Columbia; collected by George Dixon, an armourer on Cook’s third voyage who in 1787 led an expedition looking for sea otter pelts to sell to China.

See more See more: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/wooden-grease-dish-or-bowl/DwEhTUnzT2TuLQ



Sled from the Inuit people of Greenland. John Ross was a naval officer who led expeditions into the Arctic. He also brought back dogs which were of great interest to visitors to the British Museum in 1818.

See more See more: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/sled-of-bone-ivory-and-wood/UAG50yNDUKvB4w

William Bligh’s expedition


William Bligh’s ill-fated expedition to take breadfruit from Tahiti to cultivate in the West Indies was sponsored by the Royal Society, of which Banks was president. It famously resulted in a mutiny by the majority of the crew.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1513288&partId=1&searchText=bligh&images=true&page=1

Marine chronometer that accompanied George Vancouver


This marine chronometer accompanied George Vancouver, a crew-member on Cook’s second and third voyages, on his later expeditions. Banks supported his expedition to chart the northwest Pacific coastline of North America.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=55379&partId=1&searchText=vancouver+chronometer&images=true&page=1
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Two Māori hand clubs