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The Antarctic photographs of Herbert Ponting

30th September 2005 - 31 March 2006

See: Opening times for the exhibition and the Museum

Supported by the Heritage Lottery fund

Exhibition supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

An exciting exhibition of some of the Antarctic photographs taken by Herbert Ponting will be on display in the Museum from 30th September 2005 - 31 March 2006. The purchase of the original glass plate negatives was enabled by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant and the photographic prints on display are taken directly from the original negatives.

The Collection

The Herbert G. Ponting collection of over 1700 large-format glass plate negatives is an outstanding example of early Antarctic photography. This special exhibition provides a glimpse of some of the truly wonderful images in the collection. It tells the story behind them and of the significant contribution made by the Antarctic expedition on which they were taken.

Herbert Ponting was one of the most renowned photographers of his time and these photographs were taken whilst he was on the British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-13. This venture, on which Captain Robert Falcon Scott and four of his companions perished, is one of the most important early expeditions to the Antarctic and resonates throughout the British psyche. The Scott Polar Research Institute was founded in 1920 as a memorial to those who died returning from the South Pole and is the oldest international centre for polar research. It is therefore appropriate that the negatives are saved for the nation and housed here for posterity.

Ponting exhibition

After Ponting's death in 1935, the negatives were sold to a photographic and literary agent who established a successful photographic library business. The company changed hands several times from the 1960s but the negatives always remained in their possession. In 2004, the collection was offered to the Scott Polar Research Institute, who were able to acquire the negatives with the aid of a grant of £533,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.