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Department of Geography, University of Cambridge


Scott Polar Research Institute awarded £500,000 by Heritage Lottery Fund

Scott Polar Research Institute awarded £500,000 by Heritage Lottery Fund

Studio Portrait of Shackleton SPRI P99/40

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced a £5 million funding programme, HLF logoCollecting Cultures, which will benefit 23 museums, libraries and archives across the UK, including the Scott Polar Research Institute. We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded £500,000, the biggest single amount awarded to any organisation.

This money has been awarded for By Endurance We Conquer: the Shackleton Project, which will unite the Scott Polar Research Institute's Archive, Museum, Library and Picture Library in a targeted purchasing strategy designed to develop its collection of material relating to Sir Ernest Shackleton. It will strengthen all four departments through knowledge-sharing and collaborative planning, and dramatically enhance the public engagement offerings through new acquisitions and interpretation.

As a result of the enormous increase in public interest generated by the centenary celebrations of Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic (Endurance) Expedition (1914-17) it is likely a large number of items relating to Shackleton's life and expeditions will either return to the market from private collections or become available for the first time. By Endurance We Conquer will enable the Scott Polar Research Institute to seize this opportunity.

The Institute's Archive, The Polar Museum and the Picture Library already hold a number of Shackleton-related objects including diaries, lecture notes and poetry, foodstuffs from all four of Shackleton's Antarctic expeditions, goggles, medals and a clock.

The project will examine in detail the heritage aspects of the three expeditions which Shackleton led to the Antarctic: the British Antarctic (Nimrod) Expedition (1907-09), The Imperial Trans-Antarctic (Endurance) Expedition (1914-17) and the Shackleton-Rowett (Quest) Expedition (1921-22), during which Shackleton died; in addition, the Scott Polar Research Institute's Archive, Museum and Picture Library will seek to expand its stock of material concerning Shackleton's life outside of his major expeditions, including his family life and his involvement in Captain Robert Falcon Scott's British Antarctic (Discovery) Expedition (1901-04).

Sir Ernest Shackleton's name is associated with exemplary leadership, courage in the face of adversity and the refusal to give up. He is not only of national significance; Shackleton is internationally revered as an inspiring figure and this significant HLF grant will aid research into the surviving artefacts from Shackleton's time as one of Britain's greatest explorers.

The first Collecting Cultures awards in 2008 enabled over 2,000 objects to be bought by museums and galleries around the country. The Scott Polar Research Institute was a recipient for its Arctic Visions project. These awards give curators the opportunity to actively seek new additions to their collections rather than wait for items to come to auction.

Carole Souter, Chief Executive of the HLF said, "Collecting Cultures is unique: HLF is the only funding body that currently offers this type of advance funding support for museums, libraries and archives. Building on past success, a second incarnation of the initiative is back by popular demand."

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute, said, "We were very pleased to have been awarded a £500,000 grant as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund's Collecting Cultures strand. The HLF has supported a number of previous Institute initiatives including the redevelopment of the Polar Museum and the acquisition of historic photograph collections by Herbert Ponting and Captain Robert Falcon Scott, and we are most grateful for this support."