Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices

LAST WEEKS – must close 31 January 2016, don’t miss this superb exhibition that is delighting visitors  

A highlight for the Art Gallery of Western Australia is the much-anticipated Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices. This is the first exhibition in Australia to present the complex artistic and cultural interactions between the East and the West from the 1500s to the 1800s – a period known as the ‘Age of Spices.’

Demand for spices spurred on the great voyages of exploration and the establishment of vast empires across Asia. Treasure Ships presents the stories of the spice markets, slave trade and shipwrecks, as well as illustrating the astonishing beauty of Chinese porcelain, known as ‘white gold’ and celebrating vibrant Indian textiles created for export around the world.

This exhibition includes 250 outstanding and rarely-seen examples of ceramics, decorative arts, furniture, maps, metalware, paintings, prints and textiles from public and private collections in Australia, India, Portugal, Singapore and the United States. A highlight of the exhibition is the shipwreck artefacts retrieved from the Batavia and the Gilt Dragon, which sank off the Western Australian coast in the seventeenth century.

Take a free guided tour

Join one of our knowledgeable Voluntary Gallery Guides on an immersive tour of the Treasure Ships exhibition.

January tours run:

  • 11am, 1pm & 2pm, Wed & Sun
  • 1pm & 2pm, Fri & Sat
    (No tours 1 Jan)

View artworks from the exhibition


View videos about the exhibition

Latest video

UWA Institute of Advanced Studies

AGWA and the UWA Institute of Advanced Studies partnered to provide a series of three lectures. You can view the recorded lectures below.

View from the Shore: the cultural impact of globalization on Indonesia during the Age of Spices

James Bennett, Curator of Asian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia and co-curator of the Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices exhibition

Shipwrecks of the Roaring Forties

Corioli Souter, Curator, Department of Maritime Archaeology, Western Australian Museum and Adjunct Lecturer in Archaeology, The University of Western Australia

The Spice of Faith: Jesuits and the
Arts and Emotions
 of ‘Accommodation’

Yasmin Haskell, Cassamarca Foundation Chair of Latin Humanism, The University of Western Australia


Treasure Ships is presented in collaboration with the Art Gallery of South Australia. The exhibition was presented in Adelaide at the Art Gallery of South Australia from 13 June to 30 August 2015.

Image detail: J. Visscher, Netherlands, active early 17th century, after Peter Plancius, Belgium, 1552-1622, 'Islands of Maluku ... [Insulae Moluccae ...]', 1617, Amsterdam, engraving on paper, 39.0 x 55.0 cm; Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth.