Tui or Parson Bird Prosthemadera Novae Zealandiae. From: 'A history of the birds of New Zealand' by Walter Lawry Buller | OUR Heritage

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Enlarging the prospects of happiness: European travel writing through the ages. Online exhibition


Discoveries of new places, customs and climates always fascinate. While few of us possess the stamina, courage or funds to undertake marvellous or exotic voyages, we eagerly await reports of the exploits of famous travellers. It is little surprise that National Geographic magazine enjoys one of the largest readerships in English. Accounts of travel appear to have been popular from the beginning, though readers in earlier ages clearly sought different sorts of enlightenment expressed in quite different styles. This highly selective record of travel accounts over the past 500 years reveals both continuities and variations as readers explore new possibilities of worship, trade, social and political structures, and new ways of understanding their own place in the world.

Drawn primarily from the riches of the de Beer collection, with other material from special collections and Central Library holdings and from the Hocken Library and pictorial collections, this exhibition displays the remarkable breadth of the University's treasures. Moving outward from Rome as the centre of the European imagination, we traverse Europe through the mid-19th century, roam the Atlantic to the Americas and Africa, and finally conquer the Pacific in search of new territory and ideas. We witness travellers as pilgrims, explorers, diplomats and tourists. We encounter new creatures, renewed appreciation of domestic attractions, and a constant tension between fact and fiction. While the material displayed focuses primarily on works in English, similar publications appeared in every European language.

The exhibition curated by Dr Shef Rogers and was opened on Thursday 20 June 2002 at 5.30pm.

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This early version of the coffee-table book provides interesting insights into assumptions about Italian life, with its lively images of landmarks, religious processions, and peasant life. Given the French title and lack of publishing information, it…

Although the tower of Pisa was already leaning by its completion date in 1370, not all seventeenth-century pictures show the slant as clearly as this one. From a family of booksellers, engravers, typographers and cartographers, Pietro Bertelli drew…

Not to be outdone by Venice, Pisa and Rome, Milan found her own historian in Carlo Torre. This engraving shows one of the oldest surviving Roman colonnades in the city, but does not lavish too much detail on the surroundings, consigning them to a…

As a historian of his birthplace, Migliore celebrates the grandeur of Florence in this elegant guidebook.

Published in Paris, in French, Silvestre's book is the only guidebook in the case clearly intended for a foreign audience. Drawing upon knowledge gained from several trips to Italy, he published engravings of the highlights and thus embarked on a…

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