Past Exhibitions

Captain Cook & the Art of Memorabilia

Galleries 1 - 3 | 30 January - 29 May 2021

In 2004 David Roche acquired the HMS Resolution table, c.1810, a significant piece of English Regency memorabilia so-called because it contains a piece of oak from the ship and an inscription to James Cook’s achievements set amongst exotic timbers from the lands visited by Cook. Displayed for the first time at the Foundation, the table is joined by 29 items generously lent by the National Library of Australia as well as numerous works of art from other important public, private and university collections in Australia.

Following four major themes the exhibition begins with Cook’s recording and charting of the east coast of Australia and Tasmania. The exhibition then turns its attention to the idea of memorabilia: objects that are collected because they are connected with a person or event that is thought to be remarkable and worthy of remembrance; memorable; mementoes of the past; souvenirs; relics. ‘Memorabilia’ uniquely encompasses Cook both as person and an event that has evolved in relation to Australia. Personal items belonging to Cook are joined by photographs of commemorative events, children’s games, medallions, theatre broadsides and even crochet’s of ‘Cook’s cottage’ in Melbourne.

The third theme explores images of Cook which have at once proliferated and established a set of character traits that persisted well into the 20th century. These historical works are situated alongside contemporary responses by Ben Quilty and First Nations artists Gordon Bennett, Christian Thompson and Sandra Saunders to interrogate what Cook means today. The final, fourth intersection with Cook, considers the visualisation of sovereignty through coins, medallions, photography and film by First Nations artists Darren Siwes, James Tylor, Ali Gumillya Baker and Daniel Boyd. They speak to history through their own perspectives and allow us all to reconsider Captain Cook.


Interested in more?
Listen to Susannah Helman on the Cook collection at the National Library of Australia:

Listen to Susannah

Or Nat Williams on tapa cloth from the Pacific:

Listen to Nat



Captain Cook & the Art of Memorabilia

Only at The David Roche Foundation House Museum

30 January to 29 May 2021

Tuesday to Saturday 10AM – 4PM.

No booking required for exhibition.

Entry: $15 adult. $12 concession. Children under 12 free.

Guided Tours: Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday 11:15am


Image: Wedgwood & Bentley (Britain 1769–1780), Portrait medallion of Captain Cook, c.1777, London, jasper, 11.0 x 9.3cm (framed). On loan from the National Library of Australia

Past Exhibitions

Opens 15 February 2024

Next Exhibition

The Fabric of War

Historical quilts with striking geometric patterns, exotic animals, biblical stories, and even the Venetian state galley are but a few of the extraordinary images you will see displayed in this exhibition of new and unseen treasures from the renowned quilt collection of Annette Gero.


Learn More

Join Our Mailing List

If you would like to be kept informed of future exhibitions, events and lectures at The David Roche Foundation please join our mailing list.

The David Roche Foundation will only use personal information provided by you for the purposes for which it was collected.
We will ensure that your personal information is not disclosed to any other institutions or organisations.
© Copyright The David Roche Foundation 2024 Website designed, developed by