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Another new chapter starts « The Polar Museum: news blog

The Polar Museum: news blog

Another new chapter starts

The re-opening of the new museum marks another chapter in the development of the Institute over the years.


In the Photographic Archive we have not only famous images by photographers such as Ponting and Hurley, we also have lots of ‘domestic’ images too. I thought it would be interesting to see if there were any pictures of the Institute through its transitions. Lucy, our Photographic Library Manager very kindly pointed me in the right direction and scanned the following images for me.

The original building was opened to the public in 1934. As you can see in the picture it was a rather wet day, but that didn’t deter the public. Also, you have the ubiquitous bicycle chained to the fence just to make sure you know the photograph was taken in Cambridge!

1934 building

As time passed the building became too small and a new extension was added in 1968

1968 building

The new extension incorporated a large Lecture Theatre on the ground floor, laboratory spaces and an extension to the Library. The top floor was originally used as a Map Room but this now houses students and lecturers, and the map collection was relegated to the basement. In the background to the right you can see the Chemistry Department Building.

1998 extension

With the most comprehensive collection of Polar literature in the world it was soon necessary to build yet another extension to the Library. The Shackleton Memorial Library was built under the auspices of Dr Gordon de Quetteville Robin, the longest serving director at SPRI (1958 – 1982). More information on the Library and numerous photographs taken by Dr Gareth Rees can be found elsewhere on the SPRI website.

And now, right up to date, the eighteen-month project to refurbish the Polar Museum, its stores and archives has been completed on time and on budget. The reopening of the original front door on Lensfield Road provides a welcoming entrance to visitors, with a lift for wheelchair users discreetly hidden within the new steps. Restoration and double glazing of the windows to the front of the building has improved the stability of environmental conditions within the galleries.


The new Polar Museum open to the public.

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