Whitby's Captain Cook Museum to reopen after major building works

After an extended closed period to address major building works, one of Whitby’s best-loved visitor attractions is poised to reopen its doors on Saturday March 30.
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The extended closure of the Captain Cook Museum, caused by distortions in the beams of the museum’s floors, prompted a thorough renovation effort.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Normanby Charitable trust and expert guidance from UK Heritage, the Georgian Society, and conservation officers, the museum on Grape Lane underwent essential repairs and upgrades to ensure its long-term preservation.

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Amid the anticipation of the museum’s reopening, a special exhibition Cook’s Quest for the Northwest Passage promises to captivate visitors.

The Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby.Picture James Hardisty.The Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby.Picture James Hardisty.
The Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby.Picture James Hardisty.

This exhibition commemorates Captain James Cook RN, as an Arctic explorer, showcasing the Northwest Passage not merely as a navigational challenge but as a gateway to expanding trade, enriching geographical knowledge, and bolstering national maritime prestige.

Emphasising the importance of indigenous peoples who have inhabited these regions for thousands of years, the exhibition will feature original items collected by Cook’s crew alongside artifacts recovered from the ill-fated Terror and Erebus expedition.

Rarely seen objects on loan from esteemed institutions such as National Museum of Ireland, Leeds, National Museum of the Royal Navy, and Whitby will enrich the display.

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The exhibition will also address contemporary issues facing the region as the Northwest Passage becomes increasingly accessible due to climate change.

By delving into historical exploration and acknowledging indigenous perspectives, the museum aims to provide a nuanced understanding of the Arctic’s past, present, and future.

Staff, volunteers and patrons alike are thrilled at the prospect of the museum’s reopening.

Founded in 1985, the Cook Museum opened in 1987 in the historic building in the heart of Whitby where the young Cook served his apprenticeship.

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In 2001-02 the site expanded to take in the harbourside courtyard and cottage wing and in 2016, acquired a room in the adjoining building to use as an Education Centre.

The collections continue to grow through purchases, donations and loans from other museums.

The museum thanks all involved in the restoration process of the building and looks forward to welcoming visitors old and new to explore its exhibits and collections.

It opens on March 30 at 9.45am.