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Edmund Hillary To Talk Before Exhibition Opening

October 14, 2004

NZ’s most famous explorer Sir Ed Hillary to talk about his life before exhibition opening at Otago Museum tomorrow night

New Zealand’s most famous explorer Sir Edmund Hillary will talk about his life at the opening of the major exhibition in his name at Otago Museum in Dunedin tomorrow night.

Sir Ed is in Dunedin to open the exhibition: Sir Edmund Hillary: Everest and Beyond which closes on March 21.

The Otago Museum is the only South Island venue for the special exhibition of the great mountaineering and explorer.

Museum director Shimrath Paul said it was an honour and milestone for Sir Ed to open the exhibition, honoring his lifetime achievements.

``Sir Ed is talking about the highlights of his life at the opening and we are so privileged to have the opportunity hearing him talk.’’

The Hillary exhibition includes the floppy hat he wore and the ice axe he used on the historic May, 1953 conquering of Everest.

Mr Paul said they hoped to attract 40,000 people to the exhibition before it closed in March.

``We know people will be very keen to have their photo alongside `Hillary and Tenzing’ on the Everest climb’.’’ The exhibition was developed by the Auckland Museum in partnership with the National Geographic Society, curated by Alexa Johnston with the full support of Sir Edmund and Lady Hillary.

It was hugely successful at the National Geographic Explorer’s Hall of Fame in Washington DC last year.

``It is an international showcase of remarkable treasures and potentially it’s the last time the public will ever see such an extensive Hillary collection,’’ Mr Shimrath said.

The exhibition explores all aspects of Hillary's life, from his early years as a beekeeper and novice climber, to his celebrated Everest climb 51 years ago, to his humanitarian work for the people of the Himalaya.

It shows panoramic landscapes, original film footage of the 1953 expedition, replica Sherpa buildings and never-before-seen objects from the Everest ascent. It charts Hillary's other journeys, including his South Pole tractor trek in 1957, and his jet boat journey up the Ganges River following the death of his wife and daughter in 1975.

Exhibit highlights include: the ice axe he used on Everest; the Kodak Retina 35mm camera with which he took the legendary summit photographs; the clothing he wore on the summit; the nylon rope, oxygen frame, pack and mask he used during the climb; one of three tractors driven to the South Pole; precious gifts from Sherpa friends; his famous home-made blue and white sunhat; and a selection of Hillary's many awards and decorations from the Order of the Garter to a medal from the Kathmandu Taxi Drivers Association.

Otago Museum was judged the best culture and heritage attraction in New Zealand at the recent Tourism Awards.


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