skip to primary navigation skip to content


About the Friends

Association of Friends

The association of Friends was established in 1946 to provide individuals with a way of supporting the important work of the Institute. Funds are raised through subscriptions of varying levels to suit all pockets.


Supporting polar science and heritage

The Friends provide assistance to all aspects of the Institute's work as requested by Institute staff, principally through financial and practical help for the Library, Museum and Picture Library.

  • Providing materials for museum exhibits.
  • Supporting conservation work on the photographic collections.
  • Providing for the essential repair of books.
  • Purchasing maps and out-of-print publications.
  • Assisting in the preservation of the Picture Library's film footage.
  • Providing grants to support the work of polar specialists.
  • Assisting in the acquisition of archivally important journals and letters.
  • Holding special appeals to enable extra support for the Institute, such as our presentation of the glass doors into the Shackleton Memorial Library with engravings of Ernest and Edward Shackleton.
  • Contributions towards the cost of restoring historic artefacts.
  • Practical help by volunteer Friends has included working on the map collection, documentation and storage of the museum collection, photographic cataloguing, scanning newspaper articles.

How do I join?

Either call in at the Institute or you can join online - read more about membership.

Supporting the Scott Polar Research Institute

A world-renowned Institute within the University of Cambridge, linking the history of polar exploration with modern research in both polar regions

The Scott Polar Research Institute was formed in 1920 as a memorial to Captain Scott and his colleagues and is now a major international centre for polar research, information and expertise. From its base in Cambridge, the Institute provides a service to scientists, explorers, governments, industries, polar inhabitants and even armchair travellers the world over.

  • The Library is the world's premier polar library; the collection includes publications in over seventy languages and is dedicated to making information globally available through the Internet.
  • The Archive is an outstanding resource for scholars in history, research and geo-political or commercial interests.
  • The Museum has a fine range of artefacts from the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration, including Captain Oates's sleeping bag and Worsley's chronometer, used to navigate the James Caird during Shackleton's famous rescue voyage.
  • The Picture Library has over 80,000 images of archival photography and art covering the history of British polar exploration, available for loan or reproduction.
  • The Research Groups in environmental and social sciences carry out a range of regionally and globally important studies, which include fieldwork in both polar regions.

Keeping in touch

News and information about the Institute and other polar activities is circulated to members throughour our twice yearly magazine - Polar Bytes and e-newsletters. As well as arranging popular lectures we regularly hold social events, giving individuals the opportunity to meet other Friends and members of the Institute.


Executive Friends

The Friends receive contributions towards our work in support of the Scott Polar Research Institute from many sources. Most of our support comes from individual subscribers but we also receive donations and support in kind from Trusts and companies towards specific projects or as sponsorship of Friends' events and activities. These supporting Trusts and companies are our highly valued 'Executive Friends'.

Worsley's chronometer, used to navigate the James Caird during Shackleton's famous rescue voyage.


For further information about becoming involved or joining the Friends' Committee, please contact us.


The Constitution is our governing document.