At the beginning of the 18th century the geography of the Arctic, the Antarctic and the Pacific Oceans remained substantially unknown to Europeans. Scientists were particularly curious about the vast, uncharted region of the southern hemisphere referred to as Terra Australis or Terres Australes (Austral Lands). What countries lay in southern latitudes? What resources did they have? Were the oceans connected in any way?
Journeys of Enlightenment celebrates the dramatic and often tragic journeys of 18th and 19th century French explorers and scientists who ventured into the relatively unknown to extend man’s knowledge of the world.
The Western Australian Museum is continuing the work of these early scientists in the exploration of biodiversity and documentation of new species. The records and collections from the French expeditions are invaluable in helping to identify loss of species, habitat and changes in the environment.