Antarctic Gallery

Explore the objects and the stories behind the heroic age of Antarctic exploration and discovery - from the epic journeys of Scott and Shackleton to the first motorised crossing to the South Pole.

Christchurch has been the ‘gateway to Antarctica’ for expeditions and scientific programmes of many nations since 1900. Today Canterbury Museum cares for the largest and most diverse collection of Antarctic memorabilia and photographic images in the world. 

The undoubted highlight of the exhibits are those relating to the intrepid pioneers of Antarctic exploration, Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton and Roald Amundsen.

Collectively the period from 1900 to 1916 is aptly known as the ‘Heroic Era’ of Antarctic exploration and exhibits include items from Scott’s Discovery Expedition 1901-1904 and his tragically ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition 1910-1913 from which he never returned.

 In a similar vein memorabilia from Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition 1907-09 and Endurance Expedition 1914-16 are well represented and there are a few items from Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian Antarctic Expedition 1910-1912.

Later expeditions are also well represented especially the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1957-1958 involving Sir Vivian Fuchs and Sir Edmund Hillary and the first motorised crossing of the Antarctic continent.

Surrounding the core historic exhibits are natural specimens collected by scientists from expeditions over the last century.