Friday, 31 August 2012

Scott's last expedition

I finally made it to Scott's last expedition, the Antarctica exhibition at London's Natural History Museum. It closes on 2 September but I'll recommend it anyway. The exhibition features a wide range of personal items, photographs and some of the 40,000 scientific specimens brought back by Scott's team, as well as videos and a life-sized representation of the Cape Evans hut.

It's an impressive collection and certainly sheds light on the often overlooked scientific aspect of the Terra Nova expedition. Perhaps a little more effort could have gone into making the hut feel like the real thing but at least it showed just how cramped the base was.

Plenty of polar exploration books were on sale but Roland Huntford's titles appeared to be missing. All a bit odd, particularly as the introduction to the exhibition acknowledges the various revisions of Scott's character - and the aim to look at the expedition from all angles. Good to see though that by far the best seller (at least in terms of books left  on the shelves) was Apsley Cherry-Garrard's, The Worst Journey in the World.

The journey in question was of course the quest to secure an unhatched Emperor penguin, something that had to made in the middle of the winter. Cherry-Garrard recounts in the book reaction of the Natural History Museum when he turned up in 1913 to deliver the three eggs he had brought back from the Antarctic:

However,  as reported in the Manchester Guardian, the  museum didn't entirely agree with this version of events:

Manchester Guardian, 12 December 1922

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