10 Mar 2011

Restoring Shackleton's Hut in Antarctica

From Our Changing World, 9:46 pm on 10 March 2011

Alison Ballance at Shackleton's Hut and food inside hut

Alison Ballance next to Shackleton's Hut, and food items that have been restored and replaced inside the hut (images: A. Ballance)

The Antarctic Heritage Trust's Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project is working to restore four century-old expedition bases on Ross Island. Since 2006 an international team of conservators has worked year-round in Antarctica, and Alison Ballance visits the team working at Shackleton's 1908 Nimrod Hut to find out how they are getting on. She discusses the science and engineering involved in restoring historic buildings and artefacts in a polar environment with Al Fastier, programme manager with the Antarctic Heritage Trust, Lizzie Meeks, programme manager for artefacts, conservation carpenters Martin Wenzel and Randy Churchill, and object conservators Diana Komejan and Cricket Harbeck.

For the first few years of the restoration programme, efforts have focused on the building and artefacts at Shackleton's Hut at Cape Royds, and on the hut at Cape Evans. 2011 is the centenary of the construction of Scott's expedition base at Cape Evans, and while hut work is nearing completion some of the more than 10,000 artefacts from that hut are currently being worked on at Scott Base. In future years the Antarctic Heritage Trust's efforts will move onto Scott's 1902 Discovery Hut next to McMurdo Base, and the 1899 base built at Cape Adare for the British Southern Cross Expedition led by Carsten Borchgrevink.

You can listen to a 2007 Our Changing World story about Antarctic hut restoration here.

Conservators working on food storage boxes

Object conservator Diana Komejan and conservation carpenter Martin Wenzel working on food storage boxes outside the hut (images: A. Ballance)