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A voyage of discovery: Sir Joseph Banks’ florilegium. Explore it your way

Friday, 18 September 2020 in Exhibition

To coincide with the 250th anniversary of the Endeavour Voyage of Discovery, Australian Parliament House is holding an exhibition showcasing the botanical prints from Banks’ Florilegium, based on the original plant specimens collected by Sir Joseph Banks during the voyage.

The botanical drawings, along with some of the original specimen plants that are now held in the Australian National Herbarium, will be on display from 13 August to 8 November in the Presiding Officers Exhibition Area.

To comply with COVIDSafe restrictions bookings are essential for all visitors and can be accessed via the Parliament House website. For those unable to visit the exhibition in person, an online digital experience has been created, with additional information about the prints and their relationship to Parliament House.

The botanical drawings by Sydney Parkinson gave most Europeans their first view of Australia’s unique fauna. During his time with Captain Cook on the Endeavour, Banks collected more than 30,300 different plant specimens. Of those, more than 1,400 were unknown to science at that time.

Visitors to the exhibition and online experience, will gain a greater understanding of the voyage and its influence on science at the time, as well as the history of the Florilegium itself, which was not printed until some 160 years after Banks’ death. The exhibition includes:

  • a selection of prints from the Florilegium based on specimens collected in Botany Bay, NSW and various locations in Queensland
  • engravings of Sir Joseph Banks and Captain James Cook
  • present day works that recognise Banks’ legacy to science
  • original specimens collected during the voyage, which are on loan from the Australian National Herbarium
  • botanist’s tools and equipment.

Editor’s note: Interviews with the exhibition curator can be made on request.

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