The Royal Society of London
At the heart of the exhibition was a stunning array of artefacts from the Royal Society, many of which had never before been seen in Australia.
These were supplemented with additional objects from the National Museum of Australia’s own collections and the Australian Institute of Marine Science to create an exhibition that commemorated the 350th anniversary of the birth of the Royal Society, and the role it played in the exploration of the Pacific and the scientific study of the Australian continent in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Specifically, these rare objects relate to aspects of journeys and sojourns undertaken by the Society’s Fellows in the Southern Hemisphere over several decades. But they are also evidence of the close ties between scientific endeavour and imperial ambition during the European Enlightenment. This was a time when Britain and France struggled for ascendancy, both in scientific exploration and discovery, and in the extension of their territorial ambitions around the world.