Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Shackleton expedition artifacts to be donated to UK museums

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LONDON (AP) – A sleigh and flag used in one of explorer Ernest Shackleton’s famous expeditions to the South Pole has been purchased by an organization funded by the UK government to keep treasures in the UK.

The National Heritage Memorial Fund, a government-funded body, said on Wednesday it had paid 204,000 pounds ($ 274,000) to help purchase the two items, used in the first of three British Antarctic expeditions led by Shackleton at the start. from the 1900s. The artefacts will be donated to two English museums.

Earlier this year, UK authorities imposed a temporary export ban on the artifacts.

The expedition was named Nimrod after the ship, which came within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of the South Pole for the first time in 1909. But before reaching their goal, the explorers were forced to go halfway. turn, having stretched their rations to the limit.

Although ultimately unsuccessful, the expedition is considered the greatest breakthrough in history and set the stage for Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen’s successful journey two years later.

The 11-foot (3.35-meter) wooden sled was one of four used to transport supplies and equipment across the Antarctic tundra. The flag, which features a red unicorn head and a gold anchor, appears in many grainy photographs of the trip.

“Very little of the expedition survives,” said Jeremy Michell, senior curator at the National Maritime Museum in London. “In our Polar gallery that we have, we have an item which is a rather uninspiring lamp racket from Nimrod. And you can’t really tell the same dynamic stories as when you have a sledge. “

Shackleton never reached the South Pole and died of a heart attack in 1922 off South Georgia, a British overseas territory, during a fourth expedition to Antarctica.

The sleigh and flag belonged to Eric Marshall, surgeon and polar explorer who accompanied Shackleton on Nimrod’s “sledge walk” to the South Pole.

Marshall brought the items back to Britain and in the 1950s donated them to his old school.

Eilish McGuinness, executive director of the National Heritage Memorial, said the organization had suspended a lot of normal funding during the coronavirus pandemic, but was still open to “urgent and special things” at the risk of loss.

“The general agreement was that it was so important that we really had to help save it and keep these precious items in the UK,” she said.

The National Heritage Memorial Fund said the sled would be donated to the National Maritime Museum in London, Thames side, and the flag to the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge.

“People will see this sleigh and be able to kind of imagine the stories and really get close to these amazing objects,” McGuinness said.

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