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Shackleton Exhibition on International Tour – First Stop the Falkland Islands!

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

The Polar Museum Shackleton exhibition “By Endurance We Conquer: Shackleton and his Men” is going on international tour in 2016, and the first stop will be the Falkland Islands Museum in Stanley. This blog post tells the story of how we got the Shackleton exhibition to the Falkland Islands.

It all started back in February 2016 when I e-mailed Leona Roberts, Director of the Falklands Islands Museum & National Trust to see whether they were interested in working with SPRI and willing to show the Shackleton exhibition. Straight away Leona replied to say that they would be “absolutely delighted” to take it. She thought the exhibition would be of enormous interest to both local people in the Falkland Islands and to visitors, and it would allow the Museum to mark the centenary of Shackleton’s Endurance expedition in a way that they could not hope to do so otherwise. I was very fortunate to be able to visit the Falkland Islands between 13 – 20 March 2016 to meet Leona and help organise and plan the exhibition. I had a busy week on the islands, and as well as seeing Leona and the Museum team, I also met the Museum Trustees, the Governor of the Falkland Islands – Mr Colin Roberts and members of the Falkland Islands Legislative Council to tell them about the exhibition. Everybody I met was very enthusiastic and supportive and made generous offers of help. While I was in Stanley, I took the opportunity to visit the Jane Cameron National Archives and was shown a fascinating photographic album produced by the Falkland Islands naturalist A.G. Bennett in the early 1900s. The album contained several original photographs taken by Bennett of “The Shackleton expedition at Stanley 1916”.

Shackleton 31 May 1916. Image: A G Bennett Collection, Jane Cameron National Archives. The Falkland Islands.

Shackleton 31 May 1916. Image: A G Bennett Collection, Jane Cameron National Archives. The Falkland Islands.

Back in the UK, staff in the Polar Museum worked hard to get the exhibition ready to send to the Falkland Islands before the end of April. Bryan Lintott, the curator of the Shackleton exhibition, used the Bennett photographs to develop new exhibition content to tell the story of Shackleton in the Falkland Islands during 1916, Charlotte Connelly, the Museum Curator, prepared the exhibition license agreement with the University legal services team, and I worked out the logistics to ship the exhibition the 12,700 km from Cambridge to Stanley.  As well as the fifteen exhibition information panels, we also needed to freight a replica scale wooden model of the lifeboat the “James Caird” made especially by the polar explorer Seb Coulthard for the Museum, along with a couple of boxes of Shackleton merchandise for their shop. To protect the exhibition panels from damage during transport we had special protective cardboard boxes made up for us by a local company Performance Packing UK in Haddenham.

James Caird model by Seb Coulthard

James Caird model by Seb Coulthard

 

Packed and ready to go (Bryan Lintott, left, and John Shears, right.)

Packed up and ready to go (Bryan Lintott, left, and John Shears, right.)

On Friday 22 April the shipment was finally all packed up and ready to go at SPRI. Bryan and I then drove it to Chiltern Air Freight in Colnbrook, Berkshire. Chiltern Air Freight, in partnership with Sulivan Shipping in Stanley, have for many years provided regular freight services to the Falkland Islands. Our shipment was very different from the usual freight boxes but Chiltern Air Freight looked after it with great care and attention. It went by air freight from London, UK to Miami, USA and then to Montevideo in Uruguay where it arrived on 28 April. In Montevideo, the freight was transhipped from the airport to the docks and loaded on to the Falkland Islands resupply vessel MV Scout, and it finally arrived in Stanley on 5 May.

 

Falkland Islands Museum Manager Andrea Barlow takes a first peek at the newly arrived packages.

Falkland Islands Museum Manager Andrea Barlow takes a first peek at the newly arrived packages.

The Shackleton exhibition has now been delivered safely to the Falkland Islands and is being put up at the Museum as I write. The exhibition will be opened by the Governor on 31 May 2016 – exactly 100 years to the day that Sir Ernest Shackleton, along with Frank Worsley and Tom Crean, arrived in the islands to organise the rescue of their companions marooned on Elephant Island in Antarctica.

John Shears