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Published 31st Mar 2011

Portrait of Captain Cook

A rare portrait of Middlesbrough’s most famous son, Captain James Cook, has gone on display at the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum as part of its latest exhibition.

Explorers sees portraits of some of the world’s most famous explorers on display across the North East thanks to a collaborative project between the region’s museums and the National Portrait Gallery, London.

The portrait, by John Webber, official artist on Cook’s third and final voyage, is one of nine portraits of famous explorers from the National Portrait Gallery being displayed simultaneously, one in each of nine different museums and galleries across the North East as part of a new region-wide exhibition called Explorers - Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery.

The portraits on show include a selection of people who have travelled the world in search of adventure including Sir Ernest Shackleton, Sir Richard Francis Burton and Captain James Cook.

The project is being co-ordinated by Renaissance North East - an initiative to transform England’s regional museums.

Alex Croom, from Renaissance North East, said: “The portraits on display capture the character of nine very different people who are united by their love of discovering both the new and unknown.

“This exhibition is a chance to celebrate their achievements and discover more about these individuals who explored different parts of the world in very different times.

“They were all were inspired by the wonders they had seen and experienced and through this collection of portraits we hope to pass that inspiration on to visitors across the region.”

Explorers - Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, which begins on March 31, features the portraits of worldwide adventurers, many of whom are from, or have close links to the North East and all have a link to the museums or collections at which they are displayed.

These fascinating portraits are on show at different cultural venues throughout the North East, from Berwick to Saltburn.

This is the first time these portraits have been displayed as an exhibition. For more information visit

Phil Philo, Senior Curator Museums, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to see a portrait of Cook not usually seen outside London and by an artist who got to know Cook very well during the three long years of Cook’s third and final voyage between 1776 and 1780.

“John Webber painted other portraits of Cook, one of which used to hang in Marton Hall, now the site of the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, when it was part of Henry Bolckow’s magnificent art collection.

“It is a great picture and will allow visitors the unique opportunity to get closer to Cook. We are grateful to the National Portrait Gallery for lending the painting and to our colleagues in Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums for working hard to secure the loan.”

Exhibition information

Explorers: Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery March 31 to May 29, 2011 in regional museums and galleries. Webber portrait of famous explorer Captain James Cook will be on display  at The Captain Cook Birthplace Museum.

The Captain Cook Birthplace Museum is located in Stewart Park, Marton in Middlesbrough Postcode: TS7 8AT. Tel: 01642 311211

Access information for the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum

The Captain Cook Birthplace Museum has 2 lifts that allow for wheelchair and pram access to every floor in the museum.

There is an orange disabled badge holder’s parking bay at the front of the museum. Access to this car park is via The Grove entrance to Stewart Park.

A wheelchair is available for use by visitors. Prior notice is preferred.

A disabled toilet is located on the ground floor.

Also in Tees Valley

As part of this exhibition the Hartlepool Art Gallery will feature a portrait of Sir Edward Compton Mackenzie by Bassano.

Also as part of this exhibition the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum will feature a portrait of Sir Ernest Shackleton by Alick P. F. Ritchie.

Useful links

The Captain Cook Birthplace Museum

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