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Cook Museum Whitby

Volunteering / Jobs

We depend on our Volunteers to help keep the Museum open! Volunteers currently fulfil a variety of roles including guiding and welcoming visitors, room attendance, working with the education team, gardening, library and indexing, and helping with special activities. If you are interested in any of these, or have ideas which you think might be useful, do please contact our Operations Manager, Maria Aparicio. She will put you in touch with the right person.


Jobs in the Museum

Collections Outreach Officer

3 year position, .5 FTE (flexible)

£21,000 pa, rising by increments to £22,000 pro rata

The Captain Cook Memorial Museum is an award winning, volunteer-run, independent museum with a significant collection of Captain Cook and related material.  This is a part-time post created as a result of the ‘’Botanical Endeavours” project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will enable the Museum to provide a wide range of activities for all ages on the Art and Science of Plants from Captain Cook’s First Voyage. The post offers the opportunity to experience many aspects of work in a small museum and runs for three years at the rate of £21,000 p.a., rising in annual increments to £22,000.  The benefits include access to training, to the Museum and its collections, including an important library of voyage books, a pension contribution, and the opportunity to develop and implement a wide range of creative ideas both in the Museum and in other settings.

Job Description:

The Collections Outreach Officer will report to the Chairman of the Management Committee on all day-to-day matters, and collaborate with other members of the Committee, Trustees, volunteers and external experts as appropriate on particular topics.  There will be a budget for activities, to which the Officer will have access, but the post does not entail line management responsibilities.  The principal job responsibilities are:

-      Undertake a programme of outreach activities to the community, both within the town and in the wider Whitby region, with a particular focus on the art and science of plants in Captain Cook’s voyages, or in horticulture and global environmental issues

-       Create a programme of activities and informal learning to engage visitors, families, local groups and life-long learners, which will build a network of supporters and audiences within our local community and the surrounding region. In addition to young people and schools, extend our reach to older people and care settings, using arts and/or horticultural activities

-       Develop a programme of formal and informal learning activities and creative workshops linked to the Museum’s collections, in particular the unique and spectacular ‘Florilegium’ collection of large-scale botanical prints 

-       Assist where appropriate with the research for exhibitions and ways of involving audiences when examples from the ‘Florilegium’ are used in longer-term displays or in temporary exhibitions in other institutions

-       Work with the Volunteer Education Officer to extend work, and, in consultation with schools, develop new areas to create programmes that respond to curriculum changes, for example, in the natural sciences, STEM subjects and global environmental issues

-       Assist with the delivery of programmes during school visits in liaison with the Volunteer Education Officer, and work with the Whitby Schools network to engage and involve pupils in a wide range of activities

-       Develop a social media presence, in collaboration with volunteers, to chart the global and economic journeys of plant species featured in the ‘Florilegium’

-       Create additional events as resources allow in response to Whitby based festivals

-      Preparation and delivery of training/briefing events for volunteers, in relation to the events and activities programme

-      Undertake annual evaluation of the programme and assist in preparation of initial draft of the final evaluation report to HLF

-      Other activities that may arise as a result of the programme

Person specification

The background for this person could be heritage management, teaching, museum studies or activities and community events organisation.


It is expected that you would be educated to degree level or have equivalent experience or training

The ability to communicate clearly both in writing and in person is of the utmost importance.  

IT and web skills

Enjoy working with a wide variety of people of all ages.  Experience of speaking to groups is essential.

Ability to work as a team member, whether with volunteers, paid members of staff or people from external organisations.  Willingness to be flexible about hours and on occasion organise events out of hours or at weekends.

Have a high level of personal organisation and effectiveness, and ability to deliver to time.


Driving licence

Knowledge of/interest in plants and horticulture

Research skills and knowledge of museums and/or care settings

A standard DBS check is required for this post.  The anticipated starting date for this post is 1st January 2019, or as soon as possible thereafter.

How to apply

To apply send your application by email to info@cookmuseumwhitby.co.uk marking it HLF-COO application, by 26th October 2018.  Please outline how your experience relates to the specific requirements for the post, and attach a full CV, with an indication of any current period of notice.  Interviews will take place in the second week of November.

No agencies please.









Joseph Banks’ Florilegium – Botanical Endeavours on Captain Cook’s First Voyage:  a new project for the Captain Cook Memorial Museum


Botany was the passion of Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) who accompanied Captain Cook on Endeavour for the first great voyage of discovery.  Banks took with him a fellow botanist, Dr. Daniel Solander, and several artists to record their discoveries.  The voyage proved exceptionally rich in finding new plants which were quite unfamiliar to European men of science.  It is estimated that Banks brought back some 30,000 specimens (including plants, animals, insects, birds and fish), the majority of which were botanical.  Some 1400 of these were previously unknown plant species, altogether a staggering achievement for one voyage.

The artist employed by Banks to record the plants was Sydney Parkinson, a talented young man of Scottish Quaker origin.  Parkinson worked rapidly to record each plant as it was collected but could not finish the task as he died of malarial dysentery shortly after leaving Batavia (modern Jakarta) in Indonesia on the voyage home.  He had completed 269 plant drawings and 673 unfinished ones.  On return to London, Banks assembled a team of artists and engravers to complete Parkinson’s drawings and create plates ready for printing.  12 years later 743 substantial plates had been prepared.

Banks however did not proceed to publish.  It would have been excessively expensive and he had many other projects.  It was not until the 1980s that Alecto Editions finally printed a very limited run of 100 copies from the original plates using the complex handcolour printing techniques required. The prints are of exceptional quality, very large (each one 724 x 556mm in size) and provide an unrivalled record of this aspect of the voyage.  Almost all the complete collections are in institutions, either in this country or abroad, and several have been broken up.

The Scope of the Collection

We were most generously given this collection, and it provides a huge source of knowledge, of aesthetic, artistic and natural historical value, and has much potential for social and community usage.  There are 743 full colour plates, contained in 35 Solander boxes, each print showing a precise botanical rendering of the plant, where and when it was collected. 

The collection covers plants from the voyagers’ first stopping place in Madeira, then Brazil and Tierra del Fuego (including lichens quite unlike anything seen in Europe).  The largest groups are from the Society Islands (now Tahiti), New Zealand and the east coast of Australia, with a final group of 26 species from Java, the last that Parkinson drew before his untimely death.  The complete collection is unique in the north of England. The nearest full holdings are in Edinburgh, Oxford, Cambridge and London.

Our Project

We were given the collection but had to ship it from Australia!  We now plan to provide proper secure housing for it in the Artists Room.  As the prints will be on site, access will be more easily available and conservation standards properly maintained.  We plan a display, education and environmental programme over the following years which will reveal the enormous achievement of the voyages, their scientific contribution and the magnitude of the work done.  It will link past and present in terms of plants and environment, and explore changes in distribution, the naming of plants and their current use and status, enabling people to understand some of the impacts of global exchange and trade in plants.  We plan an extensive community programme with an emphasis on well-being and community involvement, as well as collaboration with naturalists’ bodies and links with some of Yorkshire’s great historic gardens.








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