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Tonight is the final late-night opening for our 2011 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. It is now sold out, so if you haven’t already bought a ticket then your next opportunity for a late night visit won't be until October when the 2012 exhibition opens at the Museum and the last Friday of that month! It's popular because it's such a great exhibition.

 

However, we have another excellent exhibition open late tonight - Scott’s Last Expedition. And a few tickets are still available by phone or at walk-up, so why not make it a part of your Friday night out?

 

If you have never been to After Hours with Mastercard, the first thing you will see when you cross the threshold into the magnificent terracotta Central Hall is the red-lit Diplodocus standing guard over our pop-up restaurant, the Blue Bar, and you will hear jazz spilling out from one of the alcoves. There is a hostess on hand to seat you if you want to have a meal.

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Above: At After Hours, the Central Hall's BIue Bar restaurant offers a choice of three bowl platter menus from smoked haddock pie to chicken paella and vegetable tagine... somewhat different to the menu at Captain Scott's table in the Terra Nova hut recreated in a stylised form in our Scott exhibition, below.
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If you just want to catch an exhibition and a drink at our After Hours evenings, then you have a number of options: turn right, down Fossil Way to our Red Bar, or go straight ahead, to the Gold Bar. And, if you are coming to the Mastercard bar, turn left down Dinosaur Way.

 

Humans being what they are, their eating and drinking offers a fascinating way of relating to the past. For example, this week the luncheon menu from the Titanic, the one served on the day it hit the iceberg - also 100 years ago this year - has been in the news. Reading it, one is instantly transported back to that era so readily that one can hear the tinkling of the piano in the dining room or think about the steerage passengers’ conditions once you see that corned beef, vegetables and dumplings were on the menu, in addition to all the fancy fare.

 

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Above: Scott's last expedition supplies included Fraser River salmon, Dutch Edam cheese and Huntley & Palmers biscuits. The original products are on display in our exhibition.

Being able to actually see one of the real menus for yourself would add in a powerful extra dimension to the impact. So it proves, when you visit Scott’s Last Expedition and see the handwritten menu cut into the shape of an Emperor penguin, with the signatures of Scott's men who ate the meal on the back. That and the original orange tins, worn with age, of Huntley and Palmers Digestive Biscuits (Plain), or the green tin of Lyle and Sons’ Golden Syrup; the box of caster sugar; the jam and cocoa; the Fraser River salmon - just some of the original artefacts (shown above) from the mammoth load of supplies the expedition took to Antarctica.

 

Suppliers were generous to the expedition: Abram Lyle and Sons gave 450kg of golden syrup, Henry Tate & Sons 2,300 kgs of sugar, Huntley and Palmers donated large amounts of digestive biscuits and Beaches gave a range of jams, including 130 kgs of blackcurrant. Frys and Sons donated a range of chocolate and cocoa.

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Scott's cubicle is recreated in our Scott exhibition and shows where he wrote his famous diaries.

Scott’s prodigious diaries show how and when these supplies were used. For example, the biscuits were used as sledging rations and, when mixed with pony meat, they became the famous ‘hoosh’ of which the expedition grew so fond (particularly when eating it was a matter of life or death during their travels in Antarctica).

 

The impact of this close-up experience is heightened in our exhibition when you turn a corner, and see footage of the unloading of those supplies from Scott’s ship, the Terra Nova, as part of Herbert Ponting’s evocative film of the expedition, The Great White Silence. We've just announced a Scott competition which gives you the chance to win a pair of tickets to our Scott exhibition and to see Ponting's film screened at the BFI cinema on 21 March.

 

I remember a teacher once saying to me ‘nothing remains of a civilisation except its art’. Sometimes all that remains of an historical event is its artefacts, so why not take the opportunity of engaging with Scott’s Last Expedition at After Hours this Friday through the medium of its artefacts?

 

You can also take part in what promises to be a fascinating debate on the contemporary issues facing the great white continent, The Scramble for Antarctica?, which is part of our series of Scott evening events

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It may be a mild January so far, but inside the Museum there's a distinctly Antarctic atmosphere. After the mammoth operation that was the royal opening of our Scott’s Last Expedition exhibition last week (see the recent What’s New blog for the news) I had been ‘pacing myself’ on the return back to normality (i.e. slacking) this week. But I was instantly revitalised on discovering that this Friday’s After Hours with MasterCard is listed in both Time Out's Critics Choice and the Daily Telegraph as one of the top things to do this weekend in London.

 

The reason this After Hours has been picked out in this delightful fashion is because we have two top exhibitions opening late, and it won’t cost the earth to come and see them, always attractive at this time of the year.

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A ticket to Scott’s Last Expedition is £9 (£8 excluding voluntary donation) and it will give you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see artefacts and specimens from the expedition on display together in Britain for the first time (above). It is also a great opportunity to take on board the facts around the 1910-1913 Terra Nova expedition and to glean something of the heroic natures of the men who went out on that terrible journey, a journey embedded in the national psyche.

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Scott films: Glimpse the shell-shocked-looking Apsley Cherry-Garrard (left) and the ordeal of the 'worst journey in the world' to Cape Crozier in 1911 to collect Emperor penguin eggs (right) in our online video or in the exhibition cinema.

 

Specimens on display include one of the three Emperor penguin eggs collected by Dr Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers and Apsley Cherry-Garrard (above left) during the permanent darkness of the Antarctic winter, which were donated to the Museum by Cherry-Garrard on his return to Britain. The eggs were collected under horrendous conditions at Cape Crozier and you can find out about the renowned worst journey in the world in our film.

 

Famously, Scott, Wilson, Edgar Evans, 'Titus' Oates and Bowers, died in 1912 on the journey back from the expedition's attempt on the South Pole. Remarkably during their failed return from the Pole they had with them 35 kilos of geological and fossil specimens that they had collected and hauled by sledge. Not even when their attempt to get back to base at Cape Evans was obviously doomed did they jettison them to lighten their load. For that reason alone, nevermind their high scientific value, these specimens have a powerful legacy and you can see some of them in the exhibition (above).

 

Many of the contemporary family relatives of the original Polar Party attended the royal opening of the exhibition and it was a great honour to have them present. Prior to the event I had the privilege of talking with Petty Officer Edgar Evans’ grandson John Evans, who sadly was unable to be present on the night. And at the exhibition opening I had my hand held by Lady Kennet, the daughter by her second husband of Kathleen, Robert Falcon Scott’s wife. She and her own daughter were intently studying a large photograph of the expedition party at the time. Although it is 100 years since the Southern Party members died on their way back from the Pole, that felt like history very close up.

 

One member of the family relatives who definitely couldn't attend the opening was Scott's only grandson, Falcon, but for good reason. Falcon is currently in Antarctica to help preserve the Cape Evans hut of the Terra Nova expedition. You can see a film of him entering his grandfather's hut for the very first time here and read about his reactions in our Antarctic conservation blog.

 

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Back on the menu this Friday is the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 exhibition - now very much sold out. And for those of you who have been missing it, our much loved Central Hall pop-up restaurant in the Blue Bar, returns (above). Here you can indulge any cravings for seasonal comfort food under the shadow of the glowing Diplodocus. If you just want to get a drink, then we have two main bar areas - the Gold Bar, just past the Blue Bar, and the Red Bar in Fossil Way.

 

As usual, there’ll be live jazz and this Friday's special Scott-related event promising a lively discussion on the question Do we naturally need heroes?. Come and join two key speakers, Meredith Hooper and Andrew Morton, to talk about the nature of celebrity and how things have changed since Scott’s death raised him to heroic status.

 

It's also a good time to visit both our exhibition shops and the main Museum shop.



Laura Harmour

Laura Harmour

Member since: Nov 18, 2009

Find out what will be happening at Lates - the late night opening of the Museum on the last Friday of (almost) every month.

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