Thursday 23 October 2008
Captain James Cook is commonly regarded as the greatest sea explorer of all time. His voyages dramatically extended European geographic knowledge of the Pacific and Antarctic, but were also of tremendous importance for many encounters with the peoples of the Pacific Islands – often first contacts that inaugurated relationships between native peoples and Europeans. A hero to some, an invader to others, he and his voyages have been controversial for more than 200 years.
This Study Day re-assesses these great expeditions. Visitors will gain unique insights into the story of the voyages and the debates around them, and will see treasures from the Pacific, including artifacts likely to have been collected personally by Cook.
Cook and his companions collected many objects from the indigenous peoples of the islands, from Australia, and from native Americans. More than 2000 are known to have been collected over the course of his expeditions, which today are dispersed around the world. The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology holds one of the most important of these collections – including sacred objects, weapons and ornaments from Tahiti, Hawaii and New Zealand, and unique pieces from Siberia and northwest America.
The day’s programme will consist of films and talks led by curators Amiria Salmond and Nicholas Thomas, and will culminate in an evening discussion with eminent maritime historian Glyn Williams, focussed on the issue of Cook’s reputation and legacy. Professor Williams will sign copies of his new book, The Death of Captain Cook (Profile). This event will be followed by a reception with drinks in the Museum’s galleries. Places for the afternoon are free, but must be booked in advance. To book, please email Liz Haslemere (firstname.lastname@example.org), or call 01223 764956.
2pm Welcome and Introduction by Professor Nicholas Thomas (Director, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology)
2.20pm Artefacts of Encounter: Collecting on Cook’s Voyages by Dr Amiria Salmond (Senior Curator for Anthropology, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology)
3pm 18th Century Chukchi Quivers: Tracing the Provenance of Cook Voyage Collections by Rachel Hand (Curatorial Assistant, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology)
4pm Film: Too Many Captain Cooks
4.20pm The Uses of Captain Cook – Commemorating the explorer in Australia, New Zealand and Britain Professor Nicholas Thomas (Director, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology)
5pm Kuki Ruamano – Captain Cook in the 21st Century by George Nuku (Artist) and Phil Philo (Senior Curator, Captain Cook Birthplace Museum)
6pm A Hero Made and Unmade : a conversation between Professor Glyn Williams and Professor Nicholas Thomas
7pm Book signing: The Death of Captain Cook by Glyn Williams