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National Museum Cardiff marks 100 years of Scott expedition

The recent BBC series Frozen Planet transported us all to a world beyond imagination each week - the frozen wilderness of the polar regions. Exactly one hundred years ago, Captain Scott and his team were dragging their sledges across the Antarctic ice sheet towards the South Pole, having sailed from Cardiff eighteen months earlier. They were soon to discover that a Norwegian team had beaten them by a month.

A new exhibition at National Museum Cardiff this January marks the arrival of Scott’s party at the South Pole on 17 January 1912. Supported by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust, Captain Scott: South for Science is at National Museum Cardiff from Saturday 14 January – Sunday 13 May 2012.


The expedition is best remembered for the tragedy which befell Scott and his four companions on the return journey but this new exhibition shows that there was much more to Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910-13 British Antarctic Expedition than an attempt on the South Pole.

Teams of scientists explored this last great frontier, bringing back new knowledge of the continent's rocks, weather and wildlife. Parties of geologists surveyed and mapped unknown lands, biologists studied and collected penguins, eggs and seals, and dredged the sea floor, and meteorologists recorded the weather and atmospheric conditions, while physicists researched the formation of ice and the movement of glaciers.
In this exhibition, visitors will be able to see a selection of specimens collected during the expedition as well as some of the iconic images of Antarctic exploration through the watercolours of Edward Wilson (1872-1912) and the photographs of Herbert Ponting (1870-1935). Amongst the specimens on display from the Museum’s own collections will be the Welsh flag flown on Scott’s expedition ship, the Terra Nova, and the ship’s figurehead. These will be supplemented with specimens lent by the Scott Polar Research Institute, the British Antarctic Survey, and the Natural History Museum. Poignantly, these include some of the rock samples collected by Scott on his way back from the South Pole and discovered with their frozen bodies in November 1912.

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Geology Curator Tom Sharpe, who has himself just returned from a visit to Captain Scott’s expedition base hut in Antarctica, said, “In 2010 we put on a successful exhibition here to mark the centenary of the departure of Scott’s expedition from Cardiff. In 2012 we return to Scott’s expedition, commemorating its achievements by focusing on its scientific work. The expedition really laid the foundations of modern Antarctic science and we’re delighted to be able to show some wonderful specimens and images from this famous expedition”.

Supported by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust, Captain Scott: South for Science is at National Museum Cardiff from Saturday 14 January – Sunday 13 May 2012.

Date: 4 January 2012
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