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The exhibition, which runs until September, promises to go beyond the familiar tales of Robert Falcon Scott’s three-year journey to the South Pole (1910 to 1913) and it doesn’t disappoint.
The focus is on the everyday stories and activities of the people who took part, their scientific work and unforgettable human endurance. Visitors can easily spend a couple of hours in the exhibition, reading about everything from the mammoth task of planning the trip to the heart wrenching words of Scott’s final diary entries.
In planning the Terra Nova expedition, Scott had to approach dozens of sponsors who he hoped would help fund the trip. Some lent financial support, while others provided some of the many tonnes of provisions that were loaded onboard for the epic trip. There are detailed log books of the supplies that were packed onto the crowded vessel, as well as footage of how they unloaded it all on arrival in Antarctica.
The exhibition then moves into a reconstruction of the hut where Scott and his men lived for much of their time in this inhospitable part of the world. Once inside, you get to see exactly where the men slept, ate and passed the many days that they spent there.
In most people’s minds, Scott is known as the ultimate explorer, but perhaps what is less well known is just how much scientific research was done while the men were away. The ambitious programme covered a broad range of specialisms including meteorology, zoology and geography. The exhibition features a lot of this work and emphasizes the significance of the discoveries made, even to this day.
Had Scott lived to tell his tale, his experience would have still been overshadowed by the success of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who beat the British team to the Pole by a month. Curators have compared the two missions, highlighting what might have made the Norwegian efforts more successful.
This extremely moving exhibition, which marks the centenary of Scott reaching the pole and his tragic death, features over 200 rare specimens and original artefacts. Many items, such as clothing, skis, food, tools and diaries are being shown together for the first time.
Scott’s Last Expedition at the Natural History Museum until 1 September 2012. Book tickets