About 100 years ago, two explorers from two different countries, Norway and England, unintentionally ended up racing to the end of the earth -The South Pole. Only one came back.
British explorer Robert Falcon Scott set sail aboard Terra Nova on June 1, 1910 from London. His goal was to reach the South Pole. Meanwhile, only a week later, on June 7, Norwegian Roald Amundsen’s ship Fram set sail from Christiania(Now Oslo). When Scott arrived in Melborne, Australia, he received a telegram from Amundsen informing him of Fram‘s decision to proceed to Antarctica. Let the race begin!
We were lucky enough to attend the special “behind-the-scenes” preview of their latest exhibition, Race to the End of the Earth at the Royal BC Museum. How often do you get to see all the people preparing for an exhibit?
When you enter the exhibit, you will see a booth to pick a card. Each card will feature a member from either British or Norwegian expedition team. This is whom I got. Birdie Bowers – The Jack-of-All-Trades.
It was fascinating to see all the preperation for the exhibition. But what’s more amazing to me, personally, was to meet Jana Stefan, Conservator and Exhibit Arts Echnician at Royal BC Museum. Jana has been to Antarctica twice. How cool is that?
Here she talked about Scott’s hut which still exists in Antarctica- the cold and dry weather is ideal to preserve everything pretty much as is. She has also advised American Museum of Natural History of creating this exact replica of Scott’s hut.
The exhibit will navigate you through the details of the expedition – “the worst journey in the world” – including original artifacts such as Norwegian team’s sledges, Amundsen’s own chronometer and shotgun. You can also learn about the difficulties of using a compass in Antarctica in an interactive exhibit that allows the visitor to see the dramatic “dip” of a compass needle as it nears the magnetic South Pole.
You don’t have to be a history buff to get excited about this incredible story. This is about exploration – about visiting a place few of us will ever get to visit. It’s also about dynamic story about two different men – Scott and Amundsen. They could have not been more different from each other.
The last section will feature “Antarctica today” – here Jana and her efforts to preserve the world’s most remote historic sites are featured. Also on display are present-day garments issued to personnel going to Antarctica and “The Apple”, prefabricated igloo that can be transported by helicopters!
We already know who won the race – Amundsen arrived at the South Pole on December 14. Scott arrived five weeks later only to find Norwegian flag already at the pole. I cannot imagine how Scott must have felt there. This is such an incredible story and it is absolutely worth it to go see. I cannot wait to go back again with my family.
Royal BC Museum will be the only Canadian stop for Race to the End of the Earth. The exhibition was designed and produced by the American Museum of the Natural History in New York, in collaboration with the Royal BC Museum and the Musée des Confluence in Lyon, France.
Race to the End of the Earth opened on May 17, and continues until October 14, 2013.
You can learn more about the exhibition at Royal BC Museum website.