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Author: Susanne
Date: April 4, 2012
Temperature: -24.7°C
Wind Speed: 19 knots
Temp with wind chill: -60°C
Sunrise:8:29AM
Sunset: 5:20PM


We all have a special connection with Antarctica, whether it is through a love of the environment and wildlife or in the stories of the early explorers. I always listened in admiration to people who had an even closer connection by being related to members of the early expeditions such as Captain Scott's grandson, Falcon Scott.


After my first season with the Trust in 2008, The Mariners’ Museumhttp://www.marinersmuseum.org, America's national maritime museum, where I worked, hosted an exhibit on some of the early American expeditions and displayed Antarctic material from the collection. One of my favorite pieces was the figurehead from the Bear of Oakland. A fantastic name like that has to have a great story, but little did I realise it would create my personal Antarctica connection.

 

Ussbear.jpg

USS Bear after World War II


The vessel Bear was constructed in Scotland in 1874 as a precursor to modern icebreakers and over the years was used for sealing, commerce, and exploration of the polar regions (most notably on the Admiral Byrd expeditions). Many sources regard her as one of the most enduring and notable polar exploration ships.  She was eventually sold to Oakland, California as a museum ship earning her the name Bear of Oakland. The Bear was originally owned by W. Grieve and Sons in Scotland, which is where my connection lies. The surname Grieve has a strong Scottish history in my family and while I haven’t yet been able to trace myself to the Bear, I still find it very serendipitous!

 

What is your link to Antarctica?

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Posted on behalf of CAHR.

 

6 December 2011 - 7 December 2011

 

The Centre for Arts and Humanities Research (CAHR) at the Natural History Museum, London, welcomes everyone to this interdisciplinary conference to celebrate the World Collections Programme-funded partnership between the Natural History Museum, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the British Library.

 

The conference will explore the history of botany and the exchange of materials in nineteenth century India. It will specifically explore the collections of Nathaniel Wallich (1786-1854), a major figure in the history and development of botany. We welcome everyone interested in natural history, art history, botany, South Asian studies, social history, history of the British Empire, museum studies and digital humanities to join us for this exciting conference.

 

Register for the conference by 20 November 2011. Full conference fee is £74.85. Day rate (Tuesday 6 December only) is £48.35.

 

The full conference fee includes:

  • Teas and coffees on both days, and a buffet lunch at the Natural History Museum on day one
  • Workshops to include private viewings of the Wallich collections at Kew Gardens on day two
  • A complimentary ticket for entry to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and a wine reception on day two
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Ranee Tiwari, Polly Parry and Julie Harvey from the Museum are currently visiting the Acharya Jagadish  Chandra Bose  Botanical Garden in Kolkata, India (formerly Calcutta) to collaborate on a project that combines science and history.  They are working on the plant collections and correspondence of Nathaniel Wallich who held the post of Superintendent of the Calcutta Botanic Garden in the early 19th Century, part of a project involving the National Archives of India, the Acharya  Jagadish Chandra  Bose Botanical   Garden, the NHM, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the British Library.

 

The NHM collections have developed over the past three centuries as a resource and reference for current scientific research, but always as part of a wider network of collaboration between museums, universities and botanical gardens in many different countries.  Information and specimens are constantly added to ensure that the collections reflect the best modern understanding of diversity and evolution.  However, they have a wider value: the gradual development of the collection reflects and captures all sorts of information and evidence of historical, social and economic interest.


Nathaniel Wallich's work, including botanical collections, watercolour drawings and correspondence is an invaluable scientific and historical resource for researchers and botanists around the world. He was central to the development of Indian botanical collections for a period, and exchanged specimens and letters with collaborators in different parts of the world: a quick search of the NHM botany collection database online shows Wallich as the named collector for more than 2,200 specimens.  This collaborative project will trace Wallich materials in different organisations and develop a website resource for public and research use.

 

Wallich was Danish, born in Copenhagen, but moved to the Danish settlement at Serampore in Bengal.  This was captured by the British East India Company shortly afterwards, Wallich and other Danes were employed by the Company: Wallich in the botanical garden from 1809, where he eventually became Superintendent at a period of prolific collection of plants from across Indian and neighbouring territories.

 

The long history of museum collections means that there is huge potential for research in the Arts and Humanities. In addition to their modern value, specimens and archives reflect past views of the world and are often associated with particular social or political developments, or with particular figures of both scientific and broader interest.  This resource is used by historians, anthropologists, artists and others for particular projects and the Museum has set up a specialist NHM Centre for Arts and Humanities Research to focus, support and develop these activities.