Exploring Antarctica: The Final Expeditions of Scott and Shackleton

Credit: Royal Geographical Society

Credit: Royal Geographical Society

An exhibition of the ultimate expeditions of both Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton – charted through the words, photographs and artefacts of those who survived and those who perished in this most hostile of environments – is being shown at The Historic Dockyard Chatham in No. 1 Smithery: The Gallery from 24 May until 30 August. This exhibition is in association with The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) with artefacts from the Scott Polar Research Institute, Royal Museums Greenwich and Royal Engineers Museum Library and Archive.

Antarctica, a frozen wilderness at the end of the world, was the last continent to be explored. At the turn of the 20th century, only a handful of intrepid explorers had reached Antarctica. The next two decades saw a period of ‘Heroic’ exploration where men were pushed to their physical limits and beyond in the name of science, discovery and the first to reach the South Pole. Two of the most famous expeditions were Captain Scott’s Terra Nova (1910 – 13) and Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance (1914 – 17) campaigns. These expeditions set out with different aims, but ended up being about survival. The eyewitness accounts of their travels and trials are a testament to those who went and those who did not return.

redit; Royal Geographical Society

Credit; Royal Geographical Society

Visitors to the exhibition can explore the treacherous beauty of the Antarctic icescapes and follow two of the most iconic British explorers on their perilous journeys across the most hostile environment on earth. They will follow the unforgettable expeditions made by both Scott and Shackleton through a series of poignant and revealing historic photographs and artefacts from both the expeditions including a perfectly preserved biscuit found on Scott’s frozen body (on loan from the Royal Engineers Museum Library and Archive), together with modern authentic clothing on loan from the British Antarctic Survey.

The stunning images captured by the skilled photography of Frank Hurley and Herbert Ponting display the feats of these pioneers and demonstrates the incredible task that lay ahead of those brave souls that chose to confront this icy frontier. Families will discover what these valiant men took with them, the routes they took and the clothing they had to wear in an interactive family activities area with a modern, authentic dress-up area.

There will be two ‘special guest’ lectures throughout the duration of the exhibition – by Dr David Wilson on 27 June and Felicity Aston on 29 July. More information can be found at http://www.thedockyard.co.uk/exploringantarcticatalks