Artefacts from the first building in Antarctica to be conserved in Christchurch

Thursday, 30 June 2016

An international team of conservators has commenced work at Canterbury Museum to conserve a unique collection of Antarctic artefacts from the first building on the continent.

Cape Adare Huts and penguins. Credit Antarctic Heritage Trust

Cape Adare Huts. Credit: Antarctic Heritage Trust ©

The objects are from Cape Adare, an exposed peninsula on the edge of the Antarctic Continent. The modest wooden huts, built in Norway for Carsten Borchgrevink’s 1898-1900 British Antarctic Expedition have lasted more than a century in the midst of the world’s largest Adelie penguin colony at a site infamous for its katabatic (downslope) winds and harsh weather.

Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Artefacts Manager Lizzie Meek said “The Cape Adare artefacts were in desperate need of conservation treatment, and we’re delighted to have begun work on preserving them for the future”.

The collection spans a range of items including tins of food, tools, and clothing worn by the early explorers.

Canterbury Museum were pleased to be able to offer space and equipment required for the project. “The Antarctic Heritage Trust international team comprise conservators from Ireland, Sweden and Australia, some of whom have previous experience working on the Trust’s conservation programme in Antarctica” said Museum Director Anthony Wright.

The work is expected to take a little under a year to complete. This project is supported with funding from the Norwegian Government and has been made logistically possible through support from Antarctica New Zealand and Canterbury Museum.

Further information online at

Image caption and credit: Cape Adare Huts and penguins © Antarctic Heritage Trust