Across the Travellers’ Tails project, the National Maritime Museum hosted a wide range of dynamic and exciting activities. We’ve had dance performances by our Choreographer in residence and taken over the participation gallery ‘RE·THINK’. In the ‘Exotic Anatomies’ Symposium and a series of evening seminars we explored themes ranging from empire and the museum to ‘Finding Voices’.
Tales from Travellers’ Tails was the final part of the Travellers’ Tails programme. The museum and the public reflected on big questions about colonial exploration during the time Stubbs’ was producing the paintings of the kangaroo and the dingo, and museum partners and artists previously involved in the project returned to take part in this final phase.
From February to June 2017, the museum is taking over a unit in Lewisham Shopping Centre. We’ll be working with a group of creative practitioners to think about exploration. Come and visit us to take part in activities and share your thoughts.
As part of the Travellers’ Tails Project, Royal Museums Greenwich embarked on a research project with SODA and UCL’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis to explore museum participation in a digital context. This was a challenging and experimental project, which initially aimed to build an interactive to explore ‘digital empathy’.
Bethan Peters was the Travellers’ Tails creative practitioner in residence from April 2015 until June 2016. Bethan collaborated with Tidemill Primary School in Deptford on Crossing the Line, created a unique site-specific film, Who Is the Land, and led on a cross-generational trail piece, We May Be Some Time.
RE·THINK was an exciting temporary space in the National Maritime Museum which tested ideas around participation. It was re-fitted for the Travellers’ Tails project in 2016 with the theme, Exploration. We wanted to encourage the public to leave their thoughts, ideas and inspirations around key questions and themes relating to exploration.
These evening seminars formed a key part of early Travellers’ Tails public engagement at the museum. They explored key questions around the history of art, science and exploration, drawing on Stubbs’s ‘Kangaroo’ and ‘Dingo’. Artists, scientists and museum professionals considered the nature of 18th-century exploration and how these histories can be experienced in a modern museum setting.
Imagine seeing an animal as remarkable as a kangaroo for the first time. When Captain Cook’s first voyage to the South Pacific returned to Britain in 1771, he brought back accounts and images of extraordinary lands, peoples, flora and fauna.
This exhibition brought to life the attempt to understand this strange new world through exceptional paintings, prints and drawings by five artists from Cook’s three voyages.
Considering the interrelationship between Stubbs, Banks, Cook and the Hunter brothers, this symposium placed Stubbs’s kangaroo at the centre of a number of burgeoning cultures of natural history in eighteenth-century London. From the gentleman-scholar’s fashionable home, to the practical and controversial space of the anatomy theatre, to the hyperbolic public entertainment, the kangaroo brought a new ‘exoticism’ to natural history.