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Focus on Antarctica

Auckland City Council
Media release

12 June 2008

Focus on Antarctica

Antarctica: a tale to tell is an intriguing exhibition of books, maps, manuscripts, photographs and ephemera at the Central City Library until August.

The title of the exhibition is from a quote from Captain Scott’s final message to the public: “Had we lived I should have a tale to tell … which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman.”

Items exhibited have been chosen from the library’s special collections and cover a wide period, from early exploration through to the Erebus disaster, and more recent environmental concerns.

Among the earliest is the first published account of Antarctica: Journal of the Resolution’s Voyage, 1772 – 1775. Published in 1776, this account by Seaman John Marra talks of Captain James Cook’s second voyage, which crossed the Antarctic Circle at several points, as illustrated in a fold-out map.

“This is a valuable opportunity to share with Aucklanders our country’s Antarctic heritage and revisit some of those near-forgotten ties with that continent,” says Councillor Paul Goldsmith, chairperson of the Community Services Committee.

A diary written by seaman William Loudon in 1935 brings a personal note to the exhibition. He describes the voyage from Port Chalmers to pick up Admiral Byrd and his party of 56 men who had overwintered at his base Little America. The author has illustrated the diary with small photographs taken on the voyage including subjects such as killer whales, huskies and sailing ships.

A more recent exhibit is a souvenir menu from an Air New Zealand flight over Antarctica piloted by Captain Vette in November 1977 – two years before the ill-fated Flight 901. With a large penguin on its cover, the menu – on loan to the library – demonstrates the sumptuousness of these first scenic Antarctic flights.

Special collections includes many rare and unusual items spanning several centuries, many donated to the library by Auckland families who wanted the reassurance that items would be well cared for, yet remain accessible to future generations.

The exhibition continues through until 24 August on the Heritage Floor, level 2 at Central City Library, 9am to 5pm weekdays and 10am to 4pm weekends. Entry is free.


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