The Celebrated Mr Banks. Reputation and Legacy



What did it mean to be a celebrity in the 18th century? Cook’s first voyage launched Joseph Banks on a career which took him to the top of the world of science and learning. He never travelled to the Pacific again, but how did he become a globally recognised figure?

Why should we remember Banks in connection with Australian wool, the transplantation of breadfruit, the development of tea in India or the growth of gardening and horticulture? Our exhibition explores how Banks’ reputation grew and some of the legacies of his long life.

This exhibition will be the second to focus on Joseph Banks’ career – last year ‘Botanical Endeavours’ explored his work and importance on Cook’s first voyage. That voyage was a game changer in Banks’ career, and he lost little time in capitalising on it despite the fiasco of withdrawing from Cook’s second voyage.

Banks undertook a brief voyage to Iceland (1772), started to advise George III on the development of Kew (1773), joined learned society life in London, and most important, became President of the Royal Society in 1778. A formidable organiser, networker and correspondent on a global scale, his significance is hard to underestimate.

Banks died 200 years ago in 1820 and still remains the longest serving President of the Royal Society.


Type Price
Tickets Normal museum admission prices. No extra charge for exhibition


21/02/2020 - 19/04/2020

Opening Hours

Sun 11:00 15:00
Mon 11:00 15:00
Tue 11:00 15:00
Wed 11:00 15:00
Thu 11:00 15:00
Fri 11:00 15:00
Sat 11:00 15:00

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