Under Southern Skies is one of four exhibitions that will feature at The Australian National Maritime Museum for it’s grand re-opening on June 22nd.
Kevin Sumption, CEO and Director explained, “All four exhibitions are part of the museum’s Encounters 2020 program to mark the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s 1770 voyage ‘from the ship’ and ‘from the shore.’”
But it is not only from Captain Cook’s perspective that this particular exhibition appeals. Under Southern Skies, brings a new awareness in the mind of the viewer. A spokesperson for the museum alluded to the fact that this exhibition is extremely relevant to the times in that it clearly demonstrates that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders knew a great deal about navigating by the stars way before Captain Cook’s epic voyage.
“In the past, there has been little recognition of the knowledge and skill of First Peoples in their use of celestial navigation. There has been a tendency to see Western navigation history as the start of the science of navigation. This new exhibition shall show the history and science of Indigenous navigating, the use of Pacific navigation by Western voyagers (eg Tupaia and Cook), as well as the more well-known stories of Dutch, Portuguese, French, Spanish and British navigation, mapping and charting,” said museum Head of Research Dr Stephen Gapps.
There are also compasses, maps and historic portraitures which allow visitors the chance to compare the voyages of different explorers including virtual tours on tall ships.
Australia has always had a very close relationship with New Zealand and there is the exhibition Kupe To Cook which tells the story of how a Polynesian fisherman ‘Kupe’ arrived in NZ purely by chance having followed an octopus there from his homeland in Hawaiki. Aotearoa was the name of his canoe way before Split Enz shared with the world the true name for ‘The Land Of The Long White Cloud.’
Kupe arrived there 1000 years ago, again, long before the white man. Kupe laid an anchor stone in the port of Porirua Wellington and then returned to Hawaiki to convince others to migrate with him. The legend that was ‘Kupe’ is explored by many contemporary artists as part of their investigations of the varied histories of South Pacific Voyaging, right up to the arrival of Captain Cook in 1769, detailed in the exhibition Cook And The Pacific.
From Jun 22. The Australian National Maritime Museum, 2 Murray St Darling Harbour. $25-$60+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sea.museum
By Renee Lou Dallow