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James Cook's collection

In 1776, Captain James Cook commanded ships “Resolution” and “Discovery” in his third voyage circumnavigating the globe. The principal goal was to discover the Northwest Passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.

After James Cook’s death on February 4, 1779 in the Hawaiian Islands, the expedition in search of the Northern way to the British Islands headed to the Bering Strait and came to Kamchatka for replenishment of food supplies and repairs of vessels. 

Commander of Kamchatka Major Magnus Carl von Behm had received the English sailors very kindly and helped them with food supply.  In return for his hospitality, Commander Charles Clerke, who took over the expedition after Cook’s death, presented Behm with a collection of items of traditional culture of peoples of the Polynesian Islands.  

Marcus Behm brought these collected items to the attention of Empress Catherine II and in March 1780, they were transferred to the Kunstkamera of the Academy of Sciences.