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Press release

Conserving Antarctica’s Past, Present and Future

Nature Live evening event, Thursday 26 October 2006, 19.00-21.00

What can specimens from Antarctica tell us, and why is it important to conserve the remnants of the first explorations to this barren land? Join scientists, conservators and curators to discuss the cultural and scientific legacy that the exploration of the Antarctic has given us. This event is first in a series of free evening events, on the last Thursday of every month, giving visitors a chance to interact with scientists and debate topical issues in science.

An expert panel will discuss endeavours past, present and future in Antarctica, using their own experience to bring the evening to life. Conservators Julian Bickersteth, Director of the International Conservation Services, and Nicola Dunn from the Museum of London, will talk about the importance of conserving the famous explorer Ernest Shackleton's 1908 Cape Royds hut, including artefacts left at the hut that reveal how these early explorers survived.

Nicola Dunn recently spent a winter in Antarctica preserving material in the hut, from provisions, including tins of ox tongue and salt jars, to tables covered with scientific, photographic and electrical equipment. This conservation project was part of the Antarctic Heritage Trust's Ross Sea Heritage Project. Nicola will give a detailed picture of the environmental conditions she was working in and what treatments she used on the artefacts. A blog created by the Natural History Museum and contributed to by Nicola and other conservators gives a detailed account of conservation work in Antarctic conditions and can be found at www.nhm.ac.uk/antarctica-blog. Nicola will bring along two conserved cans of food to the event.

The evening event will also highlight the Museum's historic connection with Antarctic and the original huts as well as discussing its ongoing research on the continent. Douglas Russell, curator of birds at the Museum, will explain what natural history specimens from Antarctica can tell us, and why they are still used by scientists today. Museum researcher Adrian Glover will discuss the importance of contemporary scientific research in the Antarctic, highlighting his experiences of travelling around the region and some of his recent scientific discoveries.

Members of the public will have an opportunity to debate with the panellists issues about conserving Antarctica's heritage, the importance of early explorers' missions and how contemporary scientific research can boost our understanding of the continent. 

Nature Live evening events are on the last Thursday of every month (except December), and can also be watched online. The events are always free and last two hours. November's Nature Live evening event, on Thursday 30 November, is about herbal remedies. More information about forthcoming events, and screenings of previous daily events, are on the Museum's website, www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-live.

Notes for editors:

Dates and times:  Thursday 26 October, 19.00-21.00
Visitor enquiries and booking: 020 7942 5555
Admission:  Free, advanced booking essential
Location in Museum:  Darwin Centre, please note the entrance is on Queen's Gate
Website: www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-live

· Winner of the 2006 Independent award for the UK's favourite museum, gallery or heritage attraction at the Museum and Heritage Awards for Excellence, the Natural History Museum is also a world-leading science research centre. Through its collections and scientific expertise, the Museum is helping to conserve the extraordinary richness and diversity of the natural world with groundbreaking projects in 68 countries.
· The Natural History Museum and the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust have established a partnership designed to profile and give remote access to British historic Antarctic exploration to a wide UK audience, through the use of interactive media and the Nature Live programme,

For images or further information, please contact:
Tel: 020 7942 5654 Email: press@nhm.ac.uk