Breaking the Ice
The First Year in Antarctica
Breaking the Ice: The First Year in Antarctica is your only chance to see rare objects from Antarctica’s first buildings before they return the ice.
Southern Cross expedition leader Carsten Borchgrevink. W Colbeck photograph, L Bernacchi collection, Canterbury Museum 1978.207.1
The exhibition, created in partnership with the Antarctic Heritage Trust, tells the story of Carsten Borchgrevink’s Southern Cross expedition through objects the explorers left behind in the two huts they built at Cape Adare. The objects include scientific equipment, clothing and sledging supplies.
Breaking the Ice also showcases a century-old fruitcake and a forgotten watercolour painting that were left in the huts by the Northern Party of Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova expedition.
The Antarctic Heritage Trust brought these objects up from the Antarctic continent for conservation. Under the government permit required to remove the items from Antarctica, they must be returned to the huts.
Borchgrevink and his group of nine men were the first humans to spend the winter in Antarctica.
Their expedition was beset by difficulties. Tensions flared between the explorers during the long, dark winter in the huts. One of the buildings caught fire. Zoologist Nicolai Hanson became ill. He was the first person to die and be buried in Antarctica. Almost every man regretted his decision to take part.
However the experiences of Borchgrevink’s group and the year of climate data they recorded helped open up Antarctica for future exploration. The Southern Cross expedition marked the start of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration that would see Scott, Ernest Shackleton and Roald Amundsen venture onto the ice.