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A Botanical Odyssey – Nature's Wonders from the Endeavour Voyage

A Botanical Odyssey – Nature's Wonders from the Endeavour Voyage

In 1768, Captain James Cook embarked on the HMS Endeavour from Plymouth, commencing his first world circumnavigation voyage, which lasted nearly three years. The official objective was to observe the Transit of Venus from Pacific islands, a rare event crucial for calculating distances within the solar system. However, the expedition was also tasked with a covert mission to search for a hypothetical southern continent, Terra Australis Incognita, although none was found. While the Venus Transit data proved inaccurate, the expedition yielded highly significant natural history discoveries.


Accompanying Cook was Joseph Banks, a wealthy and daring traveller, along with his team, including naturalist artist Sydney Parkinson, landscape artist Alexander Buchanan, and Daniel Solander, a botanist trained by Carl Linnaeus. The journey was not without peril. Buchanan, who suffered from epilepsy, passed away shortly after reaching Tahiti, while Parkinson and several crew members perished at sea after departing from Java.


This exhibition chronicles the voyage of the Endeavour and features a curated collection of engraved illustrations, which are based on Parkinson's drawings. Notably, the completion and publication of these botanical illustrations only occurred in 1990 and were published as a set of 737 prints under the title, Banks’ Florilegium. A complete set was donated to the Singapore Botanic Gardens by Mr Tan Jiew Hoe and selected images are exhibited for the first time here. The exhibition also narrates the intricate process of publishing the plant illustrations from the voyage and features a variety of artefacts related to botanical exploration.


About the Garden City Fund


The Garden City Fund is a registered charity and Institution of a Public Character (IPC) established by the National Parks Board in 2002. The Fund works with corporations, organisations and individuals to better engage members of the public through conservation efforts, research, outreach and education. In doing so, we hope to cultivate a sense of ownership and encourage the community to play its part in preserving Singapore’s legacy as a lush and vibrant City in Nature.


If you would like to support our projects, please visit


Level 1, Botanical Art Gallery (Gallop Extension)


Open daily*, 9am - 6pm (Last entry at 5.30pm)


*Closed on the last Thursday of every month


Admission is free




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29 Apr 2024 to 29 Sep 2024

Organised By:

National Parks Board


Level 1, Botanical Art Gallery (Gallop Extension)

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