Posted by: travelrat | March 9, 2016

The Cook Collection

Captain Cook

Unfortunately, my photos of the Cook Collection weren’t very successful. So, here’s a pic of a re-enactor representing James Cook. 

‘We call it the Cook Collection’ I was told ‘although it was actually put together by the Forsters, father and son scientists, who sailed with James Cook on his second voyage. But, most people have heard of Cook, whereas very few have heard of the Forsters’

I thought that was a bit of a reversal of another famous voyage; the name of Charles Darwin is familiar to many folk, but I suspect most of us would have to consult Google to find the name of the Captain of Beagle. (Robert Fitzroy, to save you looking!)

Johann Reinhold Forster, a Pole of Scottish descent was a pastor and a noted naturalist and ethnologist. With his son, Georg, also a naturalist, he sailed on the Resolution with Commander James Cook on his second voyage to the South Seas.

The Forsters made copious notes of everything they observed on the voyage, which Johann Forster published in his book Observations Made during a Voyage round the World (1778). They also made an extensive collection of natural history specimens and artefacts; 200 of these were given to Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum in 1776, and now form the bulk of the ‘Cook Collection’ in the Pitt Rivers Museum.

I’m particularly interested in how people lived before the discovery, or introduction of metal, and the artefacts that the Forsters brought back shows how cleverly they could make things out of wood or bone. I particularly admired the ropes and fishing nets, made from coconut fibre, also the feather cloaks and other clothing.


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