Travellers’ Tails

Travellers' Tails was a collaboration to investigate the history of exploration, art and science inspired by the National Maritime Museum's recent acquisitions: 'Kangaroo' and 'Dingo' by George Stubbs.

The project was a collaboration between Royal Museums Greenwich, the Horniman and three further partner museums – the Grant Museum of Zoology, UCL, Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby and the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow.

The project brought together artists, scientists, explorers and museum professionals to investigate the nature of exploration in the Enlightenment era. It looked a how the multitude of histories can be explored and experienced in a gallery, heritage and museum setting, and questioned what exploration means today.

Stubbs’s kangaroo embarked on its own voyage of discovery and visited:

  • Grant Museum of Zoology, 16 March – 27 June 2015
  • Captain Cook Memorial Museum Whitby, 6 July – 27 September 2015
  • Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, 1 October 2015 – 21 February 2016
  • The Horniman, 19 March 2016 – 5 June 2016.

The Paintings

The two paintings were the result of a commission to the artist from the gentleman-scientist Sir Joseph Banks, immediately following his part in Captain James Cook’s ‘first voyage of discovery’ to the Pacific (1768–71).

Banks is one of the most significant figures in the development of natural history in Britain and the voyage itself is traditionally identified as the moment of European discovery of Australia (though its western coast was previously known).

Stubbs’s paintings brought to public attention two of the animals that were to be most closely identified with the extraordinary new world of Australia.

Heritage Fund
Art Fund
Royal Museums Greenwich