Cook and The Pacific Exhibition at the National Library of Australia exhibition

Cook and the Pacific is an exhibition about travel – the journeys you make, the people you meet, the way travel can change lives.


Where: National Library of Australia, Canberra

When: 22 September 2018 – 10 February 2019
10am – 5pm (except Christmas Day)

Entry: Free – Book HERE

More information can be found here:

Advice: First Nations peoples are advised that the Cook and the Pacific exhibition web pages may contain images, depictions, voices, and names of deceased persons, and images of cultural objects that may be considered culturally sensitive. The exhibition web pages may also contain material with terms and descriptions that may be culturally sensitive or considered inappropriate today.


There are many stories about Captain James Cook. He was the explorer who mapped the Pacific, observed the transit of Venus and took possession of Australia for the British crown. He proved that there was no Great South Land and searched in vain for the long sought-after Northwest Passage to Asia.

But there are many other stories to tell – of different peoples encountering each other for the first time and of different ways of understanding the world. There are stories of science and trade, of sex and death. There are others of opportunities to learn new languages and of misunderstanding and confrontations. Now, 250 years after Endeavour set sail, it is time to share these stories. To explore further who Cook was, his motivations and his journey through an untraveled corner of the world.

Cook and the Pacific allows visitors to follow in Cook’s wake, exploring the Pacific through the eyes of those British voyagers and the First Nations Peoples they met. Over the course of three remarkable Pacific voyages, extraordinary meetings and exchanges occurred.

Focusing on place, the exhibition presents a series of meetings anchored on Pacific coastlines. The visitor will explore parts of the Pacific where Cook made landfall – Tahiti, New Zealand, the east coast of Australia, Hawaii and more. The voices of First Nations Peoples will be presented alongside those of the European voyagers—a dual narrative approach will be achieved through prominent use of multimedia.

The Library’s collections provide a window onto Cook and his complex legacy. They will be joined by extraordinary items from lenders including the British Library, the National Archives UK, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and the National Library of New Zealand.

Cook and the Pacific will take audiences on a journey. Visitors will learn, debate, question and understand the Pacific voyages from multiple points of view, shedding new light on Cook, the man and the myth. The exhibition will also provide an ideal and timely forum to discuss and debate a wide range of perspectives on Cook, including how he was perceived at the time and how First Nations peoples continue to respond.

The Library has also created digital study aids for both students and teachers which go alongside the information presented in Cook and the Pacific and help reinforce the learnings from the exhibition. To access these, click here

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