Museums + Heritage Awards Winner – Temporary or Touring Exhibition

Just over one hundred years after its tragic end, the story of British explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica, primarily known for the tragic death of Scott on his return from the South Pole, was told in a major temporary exhibition at the Natural History Museum, London. In Scott's Last Expedition this epic expedition was portrayed as the scientific expedition it really was. A well-known story was shown in a new light, providing new insights into the scientific nature of the expedition.

This exhibition reunited for the first time real objects used by Scott and his team together in their base-camp hut and on sledging journeys, with the scientific specimens collected on the 1910-1913 expedition. More than 350 items, from 11 collections, were shown – the vast majority of which were original artefacts used by the expedition team.

Scott’s Last Expedition used a wide variety of interpretation methods to engage visitors with the story, including photography, purpose-made film, a life-size representation of the expedition hut, original archive footage, projections and audio. It used design and interpretation creatively to help visitors to connect with these men and their Antarctic venture 100 years ago. A life-size representation of the expedition hut in Antarctica was the exhibition centrepiece. This innovative and immersive design approach conveyed the actual size of the hut with a printed layout on the floor, giving a real sense of what may have been like inside, an impression strengthened by wooden character of the materials. At the same time, this space acted as an exhibition space, in which objects were displayed and narratives unfolded. Stories of life and science at basecamp were projected on to a replica of the large table that stood at the centre of the expedition hut.

The exhibition run coincided with the widely celebrated centenary of Scott’s Terra Nova expedition and was supported by a range of events and activities at the Natural History Museum. It was one of the Natural History Museum’s temporary exhibitions in 2012, running from January to September. The exhibition was developed in partnership with the Antarctic Heritage Trust and the Canterbury Museum.