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Antarctic conservation

3 Posts tagged with the scott's_last_expedition tag
1

Matchstick Men

Posted by Conservators Feb 19, 2013

Author: Stefan

Date: 13 February 2013

Temperature: -15.6

Wind Speed: 16 knots

Temp with wind chill: -34C

Sunrise: N/A

Sunset: N/A

 

 

Although from Manchester (no, I’m not homesick yet or about to wax lyrical about the paintings of LS Lowry as the title might suggest), my focus is upon the amazing photography of Herbert Ponting (Terra Nova Expedition), and in addition the amazing brain of my fellow conservator Jaime. Back in Christchurch (before we came to the Ice) we had the chance to visit Scott’s Last Expedition http://www.canterburymuseum.com/ an exhibition featuring some fascinating artefacts; it even includes a fantastic recreation of the the Cape Evans hut. As we were strolling around Jaime drew my attention to a brilliant, but seemingly innocuous, Ponting image of the hut’s southern aspect.

 

Moonlight Winterquarters.jpg

Monnlight photograph of the Winterquaters Hut and camp with Mount Erebus in the background.  June 13th 1911.

 

© Herbert Ponting

 

Jamie explained that in using this particular image, in a previous season on the Ice, to accurately restore elements of the hut’s exterior, he had noticed certain elements of the photograph appeared ghostly and translucent. In realising Ponting had used an incredibly long exposure (lit by the moonlight), Jamie began to pick through the image and see many happenings that both arrive and disappear in the frame. The spookiest of these transitions is a dark figure who can be tracked lighting a cigarette/pipe in the doorway, walking to the left of the shot, dropping the match, and then inhaling (illuminating an intense white line, as the figure walks to the sea ice).

 

matches.jpg

Matches ready for conservation. © AHT/Marie-Amande

 

This project has a funny way of marrying everything up, and with Marie-Amande currently conserving a small tin of matches, you get a very clear perception of how deeply woven in history some objects can be.

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Earlier this month I met the lovely Graham family who live in Sydney. They paid a special visit to see our current exhibition, Scott’s Last Expedition. You see, they have a unique connection to a particular object in the exhibition – the penguin menu. The penguin menu is one of my favourite objects in the exhibition, so I was delighted to meet the family and hear how this piece of history stumbled into their lives.

 

Graham_Family.jpg

 

Graham Family with the penguin menu. From left to right: Neil, Ann Marie, Mary, and Jenny.

 

The penguin menu is a hand painted cardboard cutout of an emperor penguin, made in 1912 by Edward Nelson, a member of the Terra Nova expedition team. On the belly of the penguin, a ‘Midwinter’ menu is listed and on the back, a number of signatures of the Terra Nova expedition team can be read.

 

Penguin_Menu.jpg

Menu in the shape of an emperor penguin. Made by Edward Nelson for the Midwinter’s Day dinner in the Cape Evans Hut, 22 June 1912.


During 1988 in Glasgow, Vincent Burns, the brother of Mary Graham (see image) and an avid believer that another man’s trash, is another man’s treasure, happened upon a framed watercolour in an industrial bin. Vincent took the frame home thinking he could use it to frame his own artwork. When he dismantled the frame, he discovered a cardboard menu, in the shape of a penguin between the watercolour and the backing board. Vincent gave the menu to his brother Harry, who was quite fond of unusual objects. For ten years Harry kept the menu under his mattress and when he passed away, the menu was returned to Vincent. It was only then, that Vincent and his son Gary took a closer look. Something struck them when they read the words ‘Cape Evans 1912’ at the bottom of the menu. Gary promptly searched the internet and discovered this quirky object could have been part of Robert Falcon Scott’s famous expedition to Antarctica. As it turned out, it was! The family decided to auction the menu at Christie’s, London and later discovered it had found a home at Canterbury Museum, New Zealand.

 

The object not only represents a piece of Antarctic exploration history, it is also now a part of the Graham and Burns family history. For the family, the menu serves as a reminder of Vincent, who sadly passed away recently.


The penguin menu in the press.

 

Carli

Australian National Maritime Museum

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To commemorate the centenary of the Terra Nova expedition and celebrate its achievements the Natural History Museum, London, the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand, and the Antarctic Heritage Trust, New Zealand, have collaborated to create this international exhibition, which will be touring between 2011-2013.

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Thank you to the Natural History Museum and Antarctic Heritage Trust NZ for letting us camp out on the Antarctic conservation blog. We thought we’d post a few pieces to celebrate Scott’s Last Expedition, the exhibition currently at the museum, until 16 October. Over a series of posts we’ll take you on a tour of the exhibition, delve into our own Antarctic collection and share the story of a Sydney family who have a unique connection to the exhibition.

 

Scott’s Last Expedition commemorates the centenary of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s famous expedition to the South Pole, where tragically he and four of his men lost their lives almost 100 years ago. We ‘re lucky enough in Australia to be the premier venue for the exhibition,  it’s due to open at the Natural History Museum, London in January 2012 and then onto Canterbury Museum, New Zealand in November 2012.


The exhibition has been extremely popular, with accompanied sellout lectures, tours and children’s programmes. The exhibition celebrates the achievements and scientific discoveries made by the expedition team, and is filled to the brim with photographs, artefacts and specimens.  Among some of the impressive objects on display you will find sea sponge (Haliciona (Gellius) rudis) collected during the expedition, still green over 100 years on; and Brittle Star (Astrotoma agassizii), a star fish that sports long flexible arms to capture prey, a species found throughout Antarctic waters.


At the centre of the exhibition is a representation of Scott’s base camp at Cape Evans. Visitors can walk inside the life-size hut and get a sense of the everyday realities for the 25 expedition members, from the cramped conditions and homeliness of the hut, to the wealth of specimens collected and experiments conducted.

 

Scott_writing.jpg

 

Inside the representation of Cape Evans Hut (detail).

 

Scott_typewriter.jpg

Inside the representation of Cape Evans Hut (detail).


See photos of the exhibition installation process.

 

Take a photographic tour of the exhibition.

 

Carli
Australian National Maritime Museum

 

Subscribe to our blog 
Become a fan on Facebook 
Talk to us on Twitter #Scott2011

http://www.anmm.gov.au/scott

 

To commemorate the centenary of the Terra Nova expedition and celebrate its achievements the Natural History Museum, London, the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand, and the Antarctic Heritage Trust, New Zealand, have collaborated to create this international exhibition, which will be touring between 2011-2013.