The History of Botany

As shown at Fotogalleriet in 2017
Exhibition text and list of works




Iceland spar is a small transparent stone. Its properties helped the Vikings navigate the seas. By looking through it, they could find the sun beyond clouds or the horizon. When held in the suns direction the light coming from the sky grew brighter; the Vikings didn’t quite know why, and so they called it sunstone. It helped them navigate the seas, sometimes to new lands.

Later on, other Europeans found uses for the stone. Their more modern navigational instruments relied on the earth's magnetic field, which easily could be disturbed by the massive cannons carried onboard their ships. The sunstone was then used once again to find a route, and once again to conquer faraway lands.

The legacies of these voyages live on to this day, as they gave rise to riches as well as to discoveries of previously undocumented flora.






The Endeavour Journal of Sir Joseph Banks
1770 April 27

The Countrey today again made in slopes to the sea coverd with wood of a tolerable growth tho not so large as some we have seen. At noon we were very near it; one fire only was in sight. […] After dinner the Captn proposd to hoist out boats and attempt to land, which gave me no small satisfaction; it was done accordingly but the Pinnace on being lowerd down into the water was found so leaky that it was impracticable to attempt it. Four men were at this time observd walking briskly along the shore, two of which carried on their shoulders a small canoe; they did not however attempt to put her in the water so we soon lost all hopes of their intending to come off to us, a thought with which we once had flatterd ourselves. To see something of them however we resolvd and the Yawl, a boat just capable of carrying the Captn, Dr Solander, myself and 4 rowers was accordingly prepard. They sat on the rocks expecting us but when we came within about a quarter of a mile they ran away hastily into the countrey; they appeard to us as well as we could judge at that distance exceedingly black. Near the place were four small canoes which they left behind. The surf was too great to permit us with a single boat and that so small to attempt to land, so we were obligd to content ourselves with gazing from the boat at the productions of nature which we so much wishd to enjoy a nearer acquaintance with. The trees were not very large and stood seperate from each other without the least underwood; among them we could discern many cabbage trees but nothing else which we could call by any name. In the course of the night many fires were seen.