Saturday - 29 November 2014

Lottery grant brings in Polar archive from the cold

07 April 2014Written by Ivan Macquisten

The Polar Museum in Cambridge has confirmed that it has secured the photographic archive linked to Scott’s last expedition after a public appeal for funds by explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

The museum, at Cambridge University's Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), needed to raise £275,000 to buy the 113 photographic negatives, which were otherwise expected to go abroad. The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) has just made an award of £233,450 to secure the negatives.

"This clears the final hurdle in the race to secure the funds in time," said a spokesman. "The museum has already received generous support from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and other private donors. In addition, a significant amount was raised through a public appeal campaign, spearheaded by Sir Ranulph Fiennes."

The negatives, an image from one of which is shown here, are a record of Scott's earliest photographic attempts - under the guidance of expedition photographer Herbert Ponting - through to his unparalleled images of his team on the journey to the South Pole.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, who chairs the NHMF, said: "Captain Scott's images provide us with an extraordinary insight into the rigours of his epic but ultimately doomed expedition. As precious as the corresponding original prints, these negatives record not only day-to-day life in the Antarctic but also the development of Scott's photographic skills."

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Director of SPRI, said: "SPRI will ensure that these negatives are cared for to the highest possible standards and, once digitised, we will ensure that these resources will be within reach of a worldwide audience."

Following a period of conservation and research, The Polar Museum plans to mount a public exhibition of the images.

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