Cook’s Quest for the Northwest Passage

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Cook should be remembered as an Arctic explorer! 

In 1776, Cook set sail with two ships, Resolution and Discovery, to find the fabled Northwest Passage.  Why was the Passage so important? Europe’s maritime nations had long hoped to find a sea route to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic which would provide a shortcut to reach Asia. The Northwest Passage was seen as a way to expand trade, enhance geographical knowledge and strengthen national maritime prestige.

The exhibition will highlight the importance of the indigenous peoples who had inhabited these regions for thousands of years. Cook was by now an experienced observer of indigenous societies, and the responses of artists, officers and crew shed revealing insights into the cultures of peoples who were little known in Europe.

The achievements of the voyage, and subsequent attempts, to find the Northwest Passage will be explored. Original items collected by Cook’s crew will be on display as well as objects recovered from the later, ill-fated, Terror and Erebus expedition.  The issues facing the region today, as the Northwest Passage becomes more accessible due to climate change, will also be considered.



April 25, 2024 – October 31, 2024

Captain Cook Museum, Grape Ln, Whitby YO22 4BA
Carlton K9 June 24 Gerry Slade photography cropped

June 1, 2024 – June 2, 2024

Carlton Towers, Carlton, Yorkshire DN14 9LZ
Himalayan Gardens 5

June 26, 2024 – June 26, 2024

The Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park, Hutts Lane, Ripon HG4 3DA
Himalayan Gardens 3

May 23, 2024 – May 23, 2024

The Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park, Hutts Lane, Ripon HG4 3DA