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SPRI Review 2003: SPRI Museum

SPRI Museum

The Museum continues to introduce the polar regions to the general public and to parties from schools. The events of National Science Week included a presentation of early Antarctic films, which were introduced with an historical account. Staff availability allowed the Museum to be open continuously throughout the day. The Museum was the venue for the opening reception during the South Georgia Association Conference with displays of manuscripts, literature, and artifacts. The principal Special Exhibition during 2003 was for the 150th anniversary of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition (1901-03) led by William Speirs Bruce. The display included photographs of sites from Bruce's time and current ones of the same scenes.

Francesca Franco, our museum shop manager who is funded by the Friends of the Institute, has greatly improved the stock and sales of books and other materials from the shop. Museum opening hours have also been changed, so Saturday afternoon opening has resumed in exchange for Monday afternoon, increasing visitor numbers.

Museum acquisitions by gift included silverware that belonged to the Antarctic geologist Hartley Ferrar and was used in the Antarctic aboard Discovery. This was given by his daughter, Mrs Evelyn Forbes. A pair of snow goggles given to Harald Nilsen at Stromness whaling station, South Georgia, by Sir Ernest Shackleton was one of the more unexpected gifts. Mr Svend Hansen of Norway generously presented these with the agreement of Harald's son. Mrs Sylvia Wyatt of Canada presented six large sperm whale teeth collected by her late husband, Mr Brian Wyatt, when surgeon aboard Balaena. The Convention in the Trade in Endangered Species requirements were onerous, but eventually allowed their import.

Jennifer Hirsh's work with the computerisation of the museum catalogue has proven very useful and has brought the records up to date. Larry Rockhill and Tony Billinghurst were of great assistance in many ways to the Museum.

A grant from the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust enabled museum consultant Rob Shorland-Ball to produce a detailed report on the future of the Museum, including an assessment of the costs of refurbishment in order to enhance its role in the wider understanding of the polar regions and their scientific significance and history. Janet Owen of the National Maritime Museum also provided helpful guidance.

R.K. Headland