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From curiosities to contemporary, Silver Origin's art collection

Silver Origin's Basecamp features cabinets of curiosities
Silver Origin's 195-piece art collection combines contemporary and historical works to communicate the rich history of travel in the Galápagos, the archipelago's scientific significance and its natural beauty.

As earlier reported, the ship is in Manta, Ecuador, in preparation for beginning year-round Galápagos sailings in November. 

In some instances, Silver Origin's art pieces provide context to the legendary second voyage of Charles Darwin aboard the HMS Beagle. In others, they're intended to inspire thoughts on the islands’ unique wildlife, while still other pieces explore themes like botany. 

Peter Millard consultancy

To source, commission and organize the works, Silversea turned to Peter Millard and Partners Ltd., a London-based art consultancy. Ally Millard, the firm's creative director, invited a variety of international artists to create original works.

'We wanted to ensure that this collection displayed not only historical and traditional artworks, but also incorporated pieces such as watercolors, photographs and paintings of the Galápagos experience, cast from the eyes of contemporary artists and travelers — offering guests new artistic discoveries to enrich their journeys,' Millard said.

At the same time, Millard scoured universities and libraries for collections related to historical expeditions and tapped the expertise of Silversea's long-time partner, the UK's Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).

'The Royal Geographical Society is home to rare and unique items linked to early European documenting, mapping and scientific understanding of the Galápagos,' said Alasdair MacLeod, head of enterprise and resources at the Royal Geographical Society (with the IBG). We are delighted that so many are featured, in beautiful facsimile form as part of Silver Origin’s art collection: as inspiring today as they were when first created, some over 200 years ago.'

Basecamp's cabinets of curiosities

Silver Origin's Basecamp is designed to bring the destination on board and will serve as the venue for educational activities and interaction with naturalist guides, before and after excursions. It is also the centerpiece of the art collection, with walls that showcase framed maps and illustrations, and display cases that house contemporary sculptures, artefacts and rare books.

'Cabinets of curiosities, the forerunners of today's museums, recall an earlier time when explorers and scientists, like Charles Darwin himself, were driven by wanderlust and a quest for knowledge,' said Fernando Delgado, VP,  Silversea Cruises Ecuador.

Basecamp's art collection includes rare editions of Darwin's ‘The Origin of Species’ and ‘The Zoology of the Voyage of HMS Beagle,' pre-Columbian sculptures such as a Chimu pottery vessel from nearby Peru and explorer artefacts like an armillary sphere, globe, sextant and compass from the 19th century.


A focus on the natural wonders of the Galápagos extends throughout the suites. For all three categories of veranda suites, American artist Paula Mattson was commissioned to create limited-edition watercolor prints of wildlife. The ship’s deluxe veranda suites also have an original collage by British artist Julian Bray. For the owner's, grand, royal and medallion suites, watercolors by Conrad Martens, the artist aboard HMS Beagle, are complemented by contemporary works by such artists as Humphrey Bangham, Simon Bingle, Karenina Fabrizzi and Julian Bray.

The Restaurant

In The Restaurant are nature-inspired original works by Gregor Törzs, Frank Faulkner and Alan Bur Johnson. These include an original installation, ‘Murmuration 2020,’ wrapped around the banquette seating area. The concept, a magnifying glass, was conceived by the ship's interior architects, Hirsch-Bedner Associates, and developed by Peter Millard and Partners in collaboration with artist Alan Bur Johnson.

Explorer Lounge

With floor-to-ceiling windows, Explorer Lounge is the setting for daily briefings and lectures. Here, the artwork presents the Galápagos through the eyes of the contemporary traveler, featuring an array of sketchbooks, watercolors, drawings and other works. The collection includes an abstract bronze resin sculpture by Briton Lynn Warren and a watercolor of Galápagos storm petrels by American painter Karen Rose.

Observation Lounge

In the Observation Lounge, artistic works include wildlife photographs by Ecuadorian photographer Fernando Espinosa, porcelain abstract sculptures by French artist Pascal Morin and British artist Katharine Morling, ceramics by Ecuadorian artist Eduardo Vega and Brazilian artist Selma Calheira, and brass bird sculptures by Joaquin Tinta. There are also bronze sculptures by Britons Anthony Smith and Jemma Pearson.

Photographer Steve McCurry

Silver Origin's art collection includes the works of Silversea's own 'eye on the world,' the renowned photographer Steve McCurry. Several of his Ecuadorian portraits adorn the ship, along with two Galápagos wildlife photographs on the walls outside The Restaurant.