Artefacts of Encounter: Cook’s Voyages, Colonial Collecting and Museum Histories

December 3, 2020
Artefacts of Encounter: Cook’s Voyages, Colonial Collecting and Museum Histories

The Pacific artefacts and works of art collected during thethree voyages of Captain James Cook and the navigators, traders andmissionaries who followed him are of foundational importance forthe study of art and culture in Oceania.These collections are representative not only of technologies orbelief systems but of indigenous cultures at the formative stagesof their modern histories, and exemplify Islanders'institutions,cosmologies and social relationships.Recently, scholars from the Pacific and further afield, workingwith Pacific artefacts at the Museum of Archaeology andAnthropology in Cambridge (MAA), have set out to challenge andrethink some longstanding assumptions on their significance.The Cook voyage collection at the MAA is among the four or fivemost important in the world, containing over 200 of the 2000-oddobjects with Cook voyage provenance that are dispersed throughoutthe world. The collection includes some 100 artefacts dating fromCook's first voyage.This stunning book catalogues this collection, and itscutting-edge scholarship sheds new light on the significance ofmany artefacts of encounter.