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Today, our Scott's Last Expedition exhibiton opened to the public after a week of media coverage and VIP events in the exhbiition gallery, to mark the centenary of Captain Scott reaching the South Pole on 17 January 1912.

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Museum mineralogist David Smith and exhibition interpretor Elin Simonsson introduce HRH The Princess Royal to some of the scientific exhibits in Scott's Last Expedition at the VIP launch event on 19 January. The exhibition opened to the public today on 20 January.

Among the VIPs who attended the exhibition's launch party were HRH The Princess Royal (above) who opened the exhibition as its official patron, and Sir David Attenborough (below being greeted by Museum director Dr Mike Dixon).

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The VIP guests were still packing out the shop at the end of the evening when the party was officially over, so engrossed were they in our Polar-themed books and merchandise on display.

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So what of the exhibition itself? My first impressions on entering the gallery are of the stark contrast of warm-brown domesticity inside the Antarctic base camp wooden hut - the central focus of the exhibition - against the frozen-white surroundings of the unforgiving Antarctic landscape. And how these elements are so beautifully brought to life in the photographs and films of the expedition's photographer, Herbert Ponting.

 

Browse our Scott exhibition highlights slideshow to see what's in store

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Above and below: The main exhibition gallery space is designed as a life-size, walk-through representation of the Antarctic hut where Scott's shore party of 25 men lived and worked for the 3 years of the expedition. At its centre is an animated table showing how the hut's own central table was used by the crew members during the years at Cape Evans. Select images to enlarge them.

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One of the remarkable things our exhibition really demonstrates is the wealth and quality of visual and scientific records that Scott's Terra Nova team has given us. But then Scott's aim wasn't just to be the first to reach the South Pole on this expedition. He had planned an ambitious scientific programme, and to that end 12 scientists accompanied his expert exploration team, along with the first ever professional photographer to go on an Antarctic expedition, Herbert George Ponting. As a result, the expedition brought back a huge collection of specimens, 40,000 of which are in the Museum's collection, and a rich photographic and cinematic Antarctic archive. Some of the most iconic and treasured of these feature in the exhibition.

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Left: Officer Evans dressed for outside, as photographed by Ponting. Right: Herbert Ponting's cinematograph camera, a hand-cranked British Prestwich 35mm cine camera. Ponting was one of the first photographers to capture short video sequences on the ice.

Alongside treasures like the Cape Crozier emperor penguin egg and extracts from Ponting's fascinating film the Great White Silence, you'll frequently be surprised by homelier objects such as Huntley & Palmer expedition biscuits, a gramophone, extracts from Scott's and others' diaries and letters, Pontings cine camera, and of course many items of essential sledging clothing.

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Inside the exhibition's hut area, visit Scott's cubicle where, in his prolific writings, he penned much of his famous diary entries and expedition observations.

At the end of the exhibition journey, sit a-while in the cinema space and watch films that explore Scott's scientific legacy to Antarctic research, and find out what's being done today to preserve the Cape Evans hut.

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In Antarctica today, Captain Robert Falcon Scott's only grandson, Falcon Scott (above), is helping conserve the Antarctic base camp with a specialist conservation team and you can read about Falcon's visit to the Cape Evans hut in the Antarctic conservation blog.

 

Find out about Scott's Last Expedition and book tickets online

 

Read our news article about the opening of the exhibition

 

Discover what life was like in Scott's base camp with Museum spokesperson Louise Emerson in the BBC Online audio slideshow


Explore Antarctica online

Finally, see how elegant the Museum's Central Hall looked last night for HRH The Princess Royal's opening of Scott's Last Expedition...
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It's been a long wait, but the wall and graphic panels and display cases for our much-anticipated Scott's Last Expedition exhibition have arrived from Sydney, where the Australian National Maritime Museum's version of the exhibtion ran until October last year. After a long journey, all parts of the exhibtion are finally together here in the Museum, busily being prepared before they are moved into their new home in Dinosaur Way’s Jerwood Gallery. (And following its stay with us, the exhibition travels on to Christchurch in New Zealand.)

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Behind-the-scenes exhibition photos show some of the wall panels and work in progress as the installation of Scott's last Expedition nears completion. Select images to enlarge

About 200 items including original objects, specimens collected on the Terra Nova expedition, and artefacts ranging from books and clothes to food and scientific tools used by Captain Scott and his team, will be positioned in the exhibition gallery starting today. These are the things that will really bring to life the expedition’s many stories and the team’s everyday activities, alongside the incredible archive imagery and film footage.

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But as I saw yesterday and in these behind-the-scenes gallery photographs (above and below), the exhibition space is now really taking shape. All the wall-mounted images and information panels are in place and set the scene for the epic journey that awaits visitors from 20 January when the exhibition opens. You’ll notice the timber surrounds that take their inspiration from the Cape Evans hut, which was the base for Scott's expedition during its time in Antarctica. Our life-sized, walk-in representation of the hut with its central ‘animated’ table will be finished on Friday.

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Colours in the exhibition space have been chosen to reflect the history and legacy of the Terra Nova expedition: from purples for Edwardian England to white for leaving the hut and snow; black for the team’s return journey and blue for the contemporary part of the narrative.

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Antarctica is of course the dramatic backdrop to this exhibition which covers the Terra Nova expedition from many different perspectives. From the exhibition’s starting point - 1913’s tragic news of the death of the Polar Party - to the final cinema area showing films which explore the lasting impact of the expedition, visitors will get a real sense of the awesome landscape, enormous scale and harsh conditions of the continent.

 

Watch this space and our website for more news of the exhibition’s progress. Next week, on 17 January, TV and media crews arrive to get their first glimpse of the finished exhibition.

 

Find out more about the Scott’s Last Expedition exhibition and buy tickets online