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Author: Jana

Date: 12 November 2012

Temperature: -12 °C

Wind Speed: 20 knots

Temp with wind chill: -38 °C

Sunrise: n/a

Sunset: n/a

 

One of the first tasks that we usually tackle when we arrive at the historic huts is to remove some of the massive amount of snow that has accumulated around the buildings during the  winter.  At both Shackleton’s hut at Cape Royds and Scott’s hut at Cape Evans, drifting snow piles up each year in the lee of the buildings, burying artefacts and pushing up against the walls of the structures themselves.  If this snow is left in place, it can turn into a thick layer of ice that becomes nearly impossible to remove, or it melts slowly in the summer sun, which can cause water damage to the walls of the buildings and to the objects sitting outside.  That’s why we make sure to dig it out while it is still in a perfectly snowy, shovel-able state! 

It usually takes several days of dedicated digging to remove all of the snow in question: we take turns hacking away at the deeper parts of the drifts or gingerly brushing where we know the artefacts are buried, and then we haul all of the loose snow by wheelbarrow or sled away from the building so it can melt where it won’t cause any damage.  As anyone who has shovelled out their driveway after a snowstorm knows, it is hard work wielding a shovel all day long, and we definitely feel like we’ve earned our lunches on digging days!photo 1.JPG

Snow on the north side of Scott's hut upon our arrival

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A day's worth of digging got us this far!

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It was auspicious to read in the recent news, during the last weeks of our Scott exhibition here at the Museum, that the wreck of the SS Terra Nova ship, which transported Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his team on his last Antarctic expedition, has been found off Greenland. Terra Nova was the ship that lent its name to one of the most famous of all polar expeditions and it had been lost since 1943.

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Stills of the Terra Nova on its voyage to Antarctica, taken from Herbert Ponting's astonishing film of the journey, The Great White Silence.

Captain Scott and his polar party set off from Cardiff aboard the Terra Nova in 1910 on one of the most important Antarctic science missions in history. The legendary ship brought the survivors of the expedition back in 1913 and went on to be used by Antarctic coastal traders until it sank in 1943. It was found this month off the coast of Greenland, buried under 1,000 feet of icy water on the seabed.

 

One of our exhibition videos describes the background to the Terra Nova expedition:

 

 

Making my own personal last journey into Scott’s Last Expedition in the gallery today, it was especially poignant to watch the iconic footage of the ship’s outward journey taken by the expedition’s photographer, Herbert Ponting, in the Great White Silence film clip we show at the start of the exhibition.

 

It’s quite sad to think that the 100s of exhibits, unforgettable images and films that tell the unique stories of Scott and his team in the re-created Cape Evans base camp will be sailing off finally to New Zealand after the exhibition closes this Sunday, 2 September. They have really brought this incredible exhibition to life.

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This photo by Ponting captured a rare warm moment as Captain Scott (right) and other members of the Northern party, Evans, Bowers, and Wilson supped food from mugs in a tent around a stove, before their final journey to the South Pole. (c) Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge

Our exhibition here and the international 100th anniversary commemorations of Scott's Last Expedition over the last year have really made their emotive mark on many of us. I genuinely feel like Scott, Wilson, Oates, Bowers, Evans and the rest of the expedition team, including Ponting, have been man-hauling bravely among us over the past months.

 

I have often imagined them out in the treacherous blizzards, their meals together of seal soup and tinned asparagus, starting the day with enamel bowlfuls of hot Hunter's oatmeal (shown below), poring over penguin eggs, writing diaries and scientific notes… until the bitter end.

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If you haven’t experienced Scott’s Last Expedition, I urge you to visit before 17.00 this Sunday, 2 September. If you can't make it during the day, there may still be tickets available for tomorrow when it's open for our Friday Lates night.

 

After closing here, the exhibition goes on to open at the Canterbury Museum, New Zealand on 23 November 2012, and you can keep in touch with the work being performed by conservators on the real Cape Evans hut, which still stands today.

 

Book tickets online for Scott's Last Expedition

 

Browse the Scott's Last Expedition exhibition website

 

See the exhbibition gift range

 

Follow the work of the Antarctic Conservators in their blog

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Summer is drawing to an end and it is with a tinge of sadness that our two amazing special exhibitions, Animal Inside Out and Scott’s Last Expedition, make their last appearance at Lates this Friday. They’ve both had an amazing run and taught us all so much about exploration, endurance and anatomy.

 

If you haven’t yet seen what the insides of a giraffe look like or read Captain Scott’s inspiring and tragic diaries, I’d definitely recommend you make the trip this Friday for the last late opening of the season.

 

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And to celebrate what’s been a spectacular summer of Lates, we’ll of course be bringing back our open-mic night in the glorious Central Hall. We’ve had even more submissions than for previous months and have chair-danced our way through almost 300 youtube videos to pick an outstanding line-up for August.

 

A Girl Called Ruth

 

We’ve got live performances by Sebastian Blake, Hannah Scott, Laura Koonjean, Claudia Heidegger, Resonance, Lili Burr, Mitch Daniels and A Girl Called Ruth. To give you a taste of what to expect, there are some of their videos below to get you in the mood!

 

Laura Koonjean, said, “It’s such a gorgeous, historic venue to play. I am excited to be part of the prestigious Lates with MasterCard. Can’t wait to share some Friday fun and songs with everyone.”

 

We’re also happy to say that our friendly, yet eccentric, Crazy Artistes are back for another spin at speed-sketching in the galleries. Find them in the corridors, quickly draw the specimen they’ve brought out of the collections and you could win a prize from their stash of Museum goodies.

 

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After this month Lates will be taking a break until 26 October when we’ll return with the first late night opening of the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.

 

Andy Glynn

Visitor Events Manager


 

Find out more about Lates with MasterCard

 

 

Sebastian Blake

 

 

Hannah Scott

 

 

Claudia Heidegger

 

 

Mitch Daniels
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We’re still waiting for some proper summer weather to arrive here on Cromwell Road but while we do, we’re gearing up for an amazing few weeks. To kick start the summer of fun we’ve got a Lates with MasterCard to remember on Friday 27 July.

 

Last month we trialled our first open-mic night in Central Hall and we had ten amazing performers. This month open-mic is back and, this time, we’ve got 11 magnificent musicians to keep you entertained (some of their videos are at the bottom of the post for you to take a look at).

 

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Click any image to see it full size

 

We’re also going to be opening our front lawn for the first time at Lates. You’ll be able to relax on the grass beneath the beautiful architecture and enjoy our free Wild Planet exhibition, charting 50 years of spectacular wildlife photography, and get a glimpse of Shauna Richardson's giant hand-crocheted lions from the Lionheart Project.

 

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If you attended Lates last month, you might have seen two eccentric ‘artists’ carrying taxidermy specimens and dinosaur skulls around the Museum. If you were wondering what they were up to, the answer is speed-sketching! The ‘artists’ will be back again this month to challenge you to a quick sketch. Have you got what it takes to draw a badger, a fox or a mighty allosaurus skull in ten minutes? If so, you could walk away with some great Museum prizes.

 

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Of course you’ll also want to visit our special exhibitions Animal Inside Out and Scott’s Last Expedition. Animal Inside Out showcases over 90 plastinated specimens so you can get up-close looks at the insides of everything from cats’ brains to an elephant’s trunk. Scott’s Last Expedition tells the inspiring and emotional story of the Terra Nova Expedition across Antarctica. Read Captain Scott’s diaries, experience his Antarctic hut and see the amazing artefacts collected on his journey.

 

You may want to book your tickets in advance to make sure you get a slot. You can do that here.

 

So, whether you’re into sports, art, music or science, this month’s Lates has got something for you.

 

Andy Glynn
Visitor Events Manager

 

 

 

The Amazing Graces

 

 

 

Katie Ferrara

 

 

 

Dubellows

 

 

And, at last month's Lates, you can see that The Folk had a great time!

 

 

The Folk

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I managed to get off the treadmill of work for five minutes yesterday to take a look at the fabulous new camel on display in the Central Hall (below) as a preview for the soon to open Animal Inside Out exhibition. It stood imposingly, surrounded by admirers taking photographs of themselves beside it ‘and practically kissing it as they did’, according to Julian, our Sales and Systems Manager.

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This was in between his trying to make arrangements to fix a guttering light in the Central Hall, removing some children playing at being pterodactyls on the balcony and discussing with me and Gary, newly promoted to Head of Visitor Services, whether the best place for the camel at tonight's late opening would be in the middle of the Blue Bar (no!). To see where it will be standing, you'll have to come to the Museum tonight.

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Above: Last month's late opening of our Scott's Last Expedition exhibition (left) and the enigmatic Captain Scott who was thought to have died on 29 March 1912, as photographed by Herbert Ponting.

Earlier this week I was at a conference at the Royal Society, which is situated very close to Waterloo Place where there is a monumental bronze statue of Captain Robert Falcon Scott. I gave it a nod as I passed, for not only do we have Scott's Last Expedition exhibition on here at the Museum, but one hundred years ago on 29 March 1912 the intrepid – not to say superhuman – Captain Scott and his companions finally gave up their unequal struggle with the mighty powers of Nature and passed into history. I have just found out that, movingly, the statue was sculpted by Kathleen Scott, his widow, which explains the special resonance that the statue possesses.

 

kiran-photo.jpgWe are marking the anniversary at Lates with Mastercard with a special free poetry and song performance by poet Kiran Millward Hayward (left) and folk-guitarist Jake Wilson in the Darwin Centre café (close to the entrance of Scott’s Last Expedition) between 18.30 and 19.45. Kiran will be performing readings from Last March, a collection of poems about the expedition commissioned by the Scott Polar Research Institute. These readings will be woven around by songs from Jake’s All’s Well, which are inspired by Scott and his men.

 

Scott’s bronze overlooks a rack of blue Boris bikes. As the weather has been so fine I was pretty tempted to hire one of these after the conference and cycle back to the Museum, as long as Lycra wasn’t involved. And, if I was not already going to be here chained to my desk like a camel to a water wheel on Friday, I would indeed be very tempted to bike over to us in the evening for a glass or two at our bars.

 

I hope that you will be equally tempted to join us for what was After Hours with Mastercard and is now called Lates with Mastercard (After Hours is now the title for all our adult evening events, not just the final Friday of the month) and raise a glass or two to the heroic endeavours of Captain Scott and his team.

 

To book tickets for the Scott's Last Expedition exhibition for tonight, please call 020 7942 5725.

 

Animal Inside Out opens to the public on Friday 6 April, and has its first evening opening at the Lates in April.

 

Read the recent blog about Scott's last days remembered in our exhibition. And read the news story about this week's visit from the British Services Antarctic Expedition team.

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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.

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Preparation is in full swing for a new travelling exhibition.

 

The Scott Exhibition opens first in Sydney's Australian National Maritime Museum in 17 June - 23 October 2011, it comes to the Natural History Museum during 14 January - 2 September 2012, then moves to the Canterbury Museum in New Zealand in 16 November 2012 - 30 June 2013.

 

For more information visit the NHM website

 

The Library is often used as the setting for interviews and this time it was the turn of Dr Max Jones Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester. Such footage will form part of the exhibition.

 

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