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Royal exhibition to preserve polar heritage

Royal exhibition to preserve polar heritage

A stunning collection of Antarctic paintings from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh's private collection will go on display at Bonhams auction house in London at the end of May, to raise money for the University of Cambridge's Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI).

The paintings, produced by British artist Edward Seago during Prince Philip's tour of the Antarctic Peninsula and Falkland Islands in the austral summer of 1956-7, have rarely been on public view since they were first displayed at St James's Palace in November 1957, when Seago presented them to The Duke.

Money raised will help the SPRI, the world's oldest international centre for Polar Research, to achieve its target of £5million to support the long-term conservation of its collections of polar artefacts, art and manuscripts. It will allow the University to endow permanent posts to ensure that the museum, library and archives are properly maintained.

SPRI Director, Professor Julian Dowdeswell, says, "We are very pleased to have this opportunity to work with Bonhams to bring Seago's atmospheric paintings of the Antarctic to a wider audience. We hope that this exhibition will bring to public attention the need to preserve Britain's polar heritage.

"The Scott Polar Research Institute is perhaps less well known for its role in conserving these historic materials than for its current scientific research into environmental change, but the heritage role is no less important and one for which public support is urgently needed."

As well as supporting an appeal to help to preserve the UK's polar heritage through the Institute, the unique display will celebrate the launch of the fully-illustrated book The Antarctic Paintings of Edward Seago by Institute Director, Julian Dowdeswell and Librarian Heather Lane, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the artist's tour on HM Yacht Britannia.

Accompanying the exhibition, which runs from May 27 – June 15 (closed Saturdays and Bank Holiday Monday), will be a display of archives, historic photographs and artefacts, also held by the Museum, illustrating the history of polar exploration and science.

The Scott Polar Research Institute was founded in 1920, in Cambridge, as the national memorial to Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his companions, who died on their return from the South Pole in 1912. During the 1930s it became the base for a number of valuable scientific expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. In World War II it served the Government as a centre for research into cold weather warfare, clothing and equipment.

Since the War, it has developed further to become an international centre for research and reference in a variety of fields related to polar environments, historical, scientific and social.

The picture above is copyright of The Estate of Edward Seago, reproduced courtesy of Thomas Gibson Fine Art and depicts Grytviken Harbour, South Georgia.