Commemorating his century-old attempt to reach the South Pole first, Scott’s last Expedition at London’s Natural History Museum recounts British explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s Antarctica journey through never seen before artefacts and extracts from his and his team’s journals.
Everything about this exhibition works: the space, modeled on the Terra Nova’s Cape Evans camp, the artefacts on display showing how the expedition was prepared and at the end, testimonies of 21st century scientists to show Scott’s scientific legacy.
The exhibition is presented in chronological order: quick background of Scott and his team, preparing for the expedition, daily life at Cape Evans, Wilson, Bowers and Cherry-Garrard’s quest for the emperor penguin eggs and finally Scott, Oates, Evans, Bowers and Wilson’s doomed trip to the South Pole presented in parallel with Roald Amundsen’s own expedition.
Scott left London in 1910, on his second expedition to the Antarctic. He aimed to reach the South Pole and to carry out scientific discoveries spanning meteoroloy, glaciology, geology, biology and zoology. Even though some theories his team set out to prove, such as the link between the Emperor penguin and human kind, now seem ridiculous, their expedition brought back rocks which helped prove the theory of continental drift as well as samples of specifies unknown to mankind, now making up a significant part of the Natural History Museum collections.
As the visitor explores all sides of Scott’s expedition, he is presented with facts and artefacts but little analysis. Although curators have overall introduced the expedition in a positive light, ignoring for instance the controversy set by John Gordon Hayes and Roland Huntford over Scott’s transport strategy, they let the visitor make up his mind from what history and science know, making the display doubly interactive and engaging.
Scott’s Last Expedition at the Natural History Museum (London) until 2 September. Tickets from £5.50