THE British Museum has snapped up a “garish” Hawaiian shirt for its collection – as it turns it eye on Captain Cook.
The 1970s vintage shirt is emblazoned with images made by artists who travelled with the British explorer when he arrived in Hawaii on his third and final voyage.
Cook later died on the islands – he was clubbed on the head and murdered when his ships turned back after initially leaving Hawaii.
The new exhibition – Reimagining Captain Cook: Pacific Perspectives – marks the 250th anniversary of Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific.
It will feature “voices of the Pacific”, including the descendants of the people the explorer encountered, the British Museum says.
As well as the shirt, bought online for around £50, highlights of the 88 objects and images going on show include a contemporary work which aims to restore awareness of traditional Maori names.
The creation of Maori artist Steve Gibbs, it focuses on the region around Gisborne, New Zealand, which Cook renamed Poverty Bay.
Also on display is a work by Aboriginal photographer Michael Cook, whose work questions the Europeans’ view of what it means to be “civilised”.
Julie Adams, the British Museum’s curator of Oceania collections, told the Press Association it was a good time to “rethink” Captain Cook with a variety of “Pacific voices”.
The show will not be a “one-dimensional” view of a “great navigator”, she said.
“For many people… he has come to represent that moment where colonisation and disenfranchisement began,” she said.
The exhibition will focus on Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, New Caledonia, Hawaii, Vanuatu and Tahiti, as well as the UK.
Ms Adams said the Hawaiian shirt “articulates the way that Cook the man and Cook the voyages are still being thought through”.
“The thought that is a closed chapter is absolutely not the case.”
Reimagining Captain Cook: Pacific Perspectives, a free exhibition, runs from Thursday until August 4.