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Events & exhibitions

Previous exhibitions

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2014

Wheel in snow

Reinventing the Wheel: Bicycles in the Polar Regions

1 July – 6 September

This exhibition celebrates the arrival of Le Tour de France in Cambridge with a look at the surprising history of bicycles in the Arctic and Antarctic. The display will explore the role bicycles and bicycle wheels have played in the exploration of the Poles, both as indispensable tools and as items of fun.

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Delivery by design: Stamps in Antarctica

12 June - 6 September

Antarctic stamps are more than payment for postage, historic items or artwork to be collected; they are statements that an area is claimed by a nation as part of its territory. These stamps highlight Antarctic flora and fauna, and commemorate many of the British expeditions that have undertaken Antarctic exploration and science. This exhibition explores the history of stamps from the British Antarctic Territory, drawing from the Scott Polar Research Institute's archives and highlights the recent gift of stamps, printing proofs and original artworks made by Crown Agents to the Scott Polar Research Institute with the kind assistance of the Polar Regions Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Portrait of Charles Royds

Lt Charles Royds and his Sporting Medal

13 May - 21 July

The Polar Museum is delighted to display a Sporting Medal and tally from the British National Antarctic (Discovery) Expedition, 1901–04, led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott, kindly lent to us by Lucy Care.

Charles William Rawson Royds volunteered as first lieutenant on board Discovery. He was a meteorologist, and took part in the sledging programme, leading a sledging journey of exploration across the Ross Ice Shelf. Cape Royds on Ross Island was named for him.

When he returned from the expedition, the sporting medal and tally were given to Marguerite Makowski by Charles Royds during their courtship. Marguerite and Charles already knew each other, and first met when Royds was tutoring her brothers in maths. The story told by Marguerite in later life wass that the Royds family did not approve of their relationship and their engagement was subsequently broken off. Marguerite kept the love tokens and passed them down to her grandchildren who have kindly loaned them for this exhibition.

The medal and tally will be featured in a forthcoming edition of the BBC's Antiques Roadshow.

Sea monster Ziphius eating a seal (courtesy www.laphamsquarterly.org)

Sea Monsters to Sonar: Charting the Polar Oceans

Wednesday 5 March - Saturday 31 May 2014

This exhibition traces the development and use of maps of the Polar oceans and coastlines. Hydrography, the mapping of the seafloor and coast, has been an essential aspect of humanity's engagement with these hostile and frequently contested regions during times of exploration, speculation, science and the pursuit of economic resources. Maps are crucial tools for survival. For this exhibition the gallery space will be transformed into a trail of discovery revealing imagined and established trade routes, and journeys made for scientific discovery. Objects of significant interest on display include replica Greenlandic driftwood maps, a life-size submarine control room, hand drawn charts produced at the cost of many lives, electronic charts in the modern era and an original 16th century atlas depicting fictional Arctic islands.
Portrait of Cherry Garrard by Herbert Ponting (SPRI P2005/5/814)

The Cherry-Garrard letters

8 January - 17 May 2014


This collection of letters by Apsley Cherry-Garrard is on temporary loan to The Polar Museum. Written to his mother during the British Antarctic Expedition, 1910–13, the letters cover the voyage south, life in the Antarctic, the tragic end of the Polar Party and the expedition's return to New Zealand.

This collection was lent by The Richard C Dehmel Trust.

2013

Image of Girl in Traditional Dress, Magadan

Magadan: Life in the Russian North


Friday 6 December 2013 - Saturday 15 February 2014


Exploring the stories, culture and history of the Russian North, this exhibition looks at the City of Magadan from its communist past to its vibrant present. Combining images from two outstanding Russian photographers, Pavel Zhdanov and Andrey Osipov, and artefacts collected by Professor Lawrence H. Khlinovski Rockhill and Dr Elena Khlinovskaya Rockhill, the exhibition will intrigue and inform, revealing features of the region and its people through emotive photographs and evocative objects.

Dr Simpson at the telephone and Sidereal Clock. July 14th 1911 (Photo: Herbert Ponting) SPRI P2005/5/459

Captain Scott's Field Telephone

26 November - 7 December 2013

Captain Scott's field telephone, used during the British Antarctic Expedition (1910–13).

Chris Drury Image

Landscapes of Exploration
Art from the British Antarctic Survey Artists and Writers Programme 2001 - 2009

Thursday 3 October - Saturday 16 November at The Polar Museum
Thursday 3 October - Thursday 24 October at the Ruskin Gallery, Anglia Ruskin University

Landscapes of Exploration is a joint exhibition presented by The Polar Museum and the Ruskin Gallery. The forbidding environment of Antarctica is examined through the work of ten contemporary visual artists and one musician who undertook residencies in the Antarctic between 2001 and 2009 as part of the British Antarctic Survey's Artists and Writers in Residence Scheme, supported by Arts Council England.

Curated by Liz Wells, Professor in Photographic Culture at Plymouth University, and first shown at Peninsula Arts, Plymouth, in 2012, these works are to be exhibited together in Cambridge, home of the British Antarctic Survey and the Scott Polar Research Institute.

Landscapes of Exploration foregrounds the role of contemporary art in examining Antarctica. It brings together the work which resulted from their various investigations, offering an opportunity to reflect upon the very different subject matter, media and artistic responses evident in the range of work produced.

Benjamin Leigh Smith

Benjamin Leigh Smith 1828 - 1913

27 - 28 September 2013

Benjamin Leigh Smith was one of the most successful private Arctic explorers of the Victorian Age. After travelling extensively in his youth and receiving the Board of Trade Licence to command his own ships, Smith sailed the arctic waters from 1871 to 1882 undertaking scientific research including valuable oceanographic work on the Gulf Stream and mapping areas of Spitsbergen and Franz Josef Land.

This exhibition commemorates Leigh Smith's centenary and brings together documents and mementos from the family, with items from the Scott Polar Research Institute's collections.

Sharing the hunt by Helen Kalvak, Ulukhaktok, 1985 (Y: 2010/10/46)

Life on the Land

3 September - 24 September 2013

Back by popular demand! An exhibition of Inuit art works featuring domestic and hunting scenes which capture a vanishing way of life and reveal the daily struggle to survive. In a culture where keen observation of wildlife was essential to survival, the artists depict the animals and birds which sustain the community, skilfully capturing their form and personality.

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The Snow Queen Retold

Friday 16 August - Saturday 31 August 2013

Inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen's story, The Snow Queen Retold is a collaboration between SPRI Invited Poet Kaddy Benyon and Textile Artist Lindsey Holmes. Benyon's poetry re-imagines the narrative journey to the North Pole in this classic tale; Holmes' art installation has been created as a textile response to these written works. Read more …

Paul Coldwell

Re-Imagining Scott: Objects and Journeys

Friday 31 May - Saturday 20 July 2013

Re-Imagining Scott: Objects and Journeys is a new exhibition of work by artist Paul Coldwell, exploring Scott's final expedition and how it might be possible to re-imagine aspects of the tragic final journey through the objects left behind.

Frozen Worlds

Frozen Worlds

27 February 2013 - 18 May 2013

"After all, to go into outer space is not so much worse, if at all, than a polar expedition. Men go on polar expeditions." H.G. Wells 'The First Men in the Moon', 1901.

The Polar Museum premiers Frozen Worlds, an exhibition that explores the links between polar exploration and science on Earth, and the exploration of other ice worlds in our Solar System.

Find out about how scientists investigate life in the polar extremes to understand what life may be present within Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, or Mars. Learn about experiments in Antarctica to test space suits for use on other planets, and how human adaptation to the extreme conditions at the Poles are an analogue to the challenges faced by astronauts.

Join us to explore some of the most inhospitable places in the universe.

2012

Captain Scott with sledge by Herbert Ponting (SPRI ref P2009/5/369)

Robert Falcon Scott: A Century On

17 October 2012 - 2 February 2013

Exploring the impact of Captain Scott's achievements - Antarctic science and exploration, a century of art and literature and the wider cultural legacy of his expeditions.

Tent - Jacqui Chanarin

Jacqui Chanarin: An Expedition in Porcelain

21 August - 20 October 2012

Ice Floes, Halley Bay, Antarctica by David Smith (SPRI ref Y: 79/1/2)

Reflections on ice: David Smith in Antarctica

8 August - 6 October 2012

A retrospective of work from SPRI's art collections and from the British Antarctic Survey

Dafila Scott: Four gentoo penguins, Port Lockroy (pastel)

The edge of beyond: Dafila Scott's Antarctic paintings

The Friends of SPRI Artist in Residence on board HMS SCOTT in 2011, Dafila's work conveys her response to the landscape and wildlife of the Antarctic.

Contact Dafila Scott for details of paintings for sale.

15 May - 30 June 2012

P2005/5/1686 At the South Pole (Photo: H.R. Bowers)

These rough notes: Captain Scott's last expedition

Manuscripts and photographs from the British Antarctic (Terra Nova) Expedition 1910-13

BAT crest

7 December 2011 - 5 May 2012

Exhibition kindly sponsored by the Government of the British Antarctic Territory

2011

Roald Amundsen, image courtesy of the Norwegian National Library

Roald Amundsen

An exhibition on the life of the great Polar explorer
In collaboration with the Fram Museum, Oslo

BAT crest

2 September - 19 November 2011

Sponsored by the Government of the British Antarctic Territory

Edward Whymper

Edward Whymper (1840 - 1911)

A retrospective exhibition to mark the centenary of the pioneering mountaineer and wood engraver
1 September - 31 October 2011

Dolls by Sarah Clearly

Sewing our traditions: dolls of Canada's North

Organized and circulated by the Yukon Arts Centre with the generous support of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut Governments
18 May - 20 August 2011

HLF logoNunavut logoYukon logoNorthwest Territories logoYukon Arts Centre logo

Drawing of a dog by Colin Bertram

British Graham Land Expedition

Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the 1934-37 expedition to Antarctica
20 January - 29 April 2011

2010

Scientist 1964, Sidney Nolan.

Sidney Nolan: Antarctica

An exhibition organised in collaboration with the Sidney Nolan Trust
(30 September - 18 December 2010)

Dancing owl, Palaya Qiatsuq

Inuit Art: Masterworks from the Arctic

(2 June - 10 September 2010)

Dancing bear, Pauta Saila

Sananguaq: Inuit art in Britain

2 June - 10 September 2010

An exhibition organised by the Polar Museum at Canada House, Trafalgar Square, London, courtesy of the Canadian High Commission.

2009

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Flood Cycle: Visual Impressions of a Changing Planet – artwork by John Kelly

25 February – 4 April 2009

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Nimrod

An exhibition celebrating the centenary of Shackleton's British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909

21 October 2008 – 4 April 2009

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John Gale & Sons

An exhibition of oil paintings from Antarctica and the Southern Ocean by Britain's leading bird illustrator, John Gale

14 January – 14 February 2009

2008

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Glacial Shift: Drawn to the Alps - recent drawings and prints by Emma Stibbon

(13 November 2008 – 10 January 2009)

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Chris and Vikky Furse – etchings and paintings from their polar travels

(18 September – 8 November 2008)

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Maybe Tomorrow / Immaqa Aqagu – photography by Tiina Itkonen

(9 September – 8 November 2008)

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South Georgia: A Centenary of Good Government

(17 July – 24 September 2008)

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Face to Face: Polar Portraits

Historic photography from the SPRI collections with modern portraits from leading expedition photographer Martin Hartley

(25 July – 13 September 2008)

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nanoq – photographs by Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson

(13 May – 30 August 2008)

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Jörg Schmeisser - etchings from Breaking the Ice: Works from the Antarctic

(30 May - 19 July 2008)

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Melt Down: The Changing Arctic - photography by Louise Murray

(20 March - 17 May 2008)

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First Across: 1955-58 Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition

(17 January - 26 April 2008)

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Ships & Shoes & Snow Goggles

Polar history inspires paintings and sketches by Vincent Alexander Booth

(12 January - 15 March 2008)

2007

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Art of Exploration: The Polar Vision of Sir Wally Herbert

(25 October - 20 December 2007)

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Antarctica: Ice and Light

An exhibition of paintings by Malize McBride

(10 July - 30 September 2007)

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Keith Shackleton: A Polar Retrospective

(1 May - 30 June 2007)

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SPRI at Bonhams

A selection of items from the Scott Polar Research Institute collections on display alongside the Antarctic paintings of Edward Seago at Bonhams (Gallery 1), 101 New Bond Street, London (27 May - 15 June 2007)

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Survivants des Glaces

An exhibition in partnership with La Corderie Royale, Rochefort, France

(9 December 2006 - 30 June 2007)

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Trine Lotte Krogseth: Svalbard

An exhibition of watercolours by Trine Lotte Krogseth

(15 March - 21 April 2007)

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Scott's Last Letters Home

An exhibition of the moving correspondence of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and members of the Pole Party

(17 January - 14 April 2007)

2006

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Frobisher's Gold

(26 October - 30 November 2006)

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The Autobiography of John Rae (1813-1893)

(23 August 2006 - 30 September 2006)

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Arctic Encounters

The material culture of northern Canada, Greenland and Alaska

(3 May - 16 December 2006)

2005

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The Antarctic Photographs of Herbert Ponting

Exhibition supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (30 September 2005 - 31 March 2006)

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The Life and Work of Professor Frank Debenham

Founder of the Scott Polar Research Institute (21 July 2005 - 21 September 2005)

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Edward Seago: The Antarctic Paintings

(18 May 2005 - 7 July 2005)

2004

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Shackleton: The Hidden Collections

(1 May 2004 - 31 March 2005)