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December 2023 Museum Blog – Busy at Work and Play

The December Museum blog was written by Bodil Malmose – Museum Assistant.

December is usually a busy month for us at the South Georgia Museum – this year was no different, both our work schedule and social calendar were packed full!

A rare break between visiting cruise ships during a period of relatively dry weather made it possible for us to complete a move of our Large Object Store. You can read more about this move, spearheaded by Curatorial Intern Helen, here.

Later we were tackling even larger objects, moving a ship’s boom on the museum forecourt to a better location and bringing a vast whale jawbone from the whaling station into shelter – we hope to put it on display in future.

Moving the whale’s jawbone with help from government builder, Bob


Moving the ship’s boom into its new place on the forecourt


We also started the process of cataloging the old library in the church. It is full of books from the whaling stations on South Georgia and offers insight into interests and pastimes of the whalers.

The whalers’ library


In early December it was time to say goodbye to the ’23 wintering British Antarctic Survey (BAS) team. They had become great friends to us all so this goodbye was an emotional start to the month. We wish them all the best as they continue to explore the world and hope to see them once we too are back in the ‘real world’.

December also brought happy occasions as we celebrated a grand total of four birthdays in the first two weeks of December! One was the birthday of our fantastic Museum Director, Deirdre. We celebrated with high tea and a blonde Fur Seal pup cake in fabulous sunshine outside the museum.

Our Director Deirdre’s birthday spread


Deirdre with her cake in the sun


We kicked off our preparations for Christmas by decorating Grytviken church. Afterwards there was with festive carolling with the BAS team, our Postal Officers and Government Officers.

The bedecked church was used for another festive carolling event when the BAS research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough (SDA), came alongside at King Edward Point for their first visit of the summer. SDA brought sundries and frozen food for the coming year, so we and all other available hands assisted unpacking all the new and exciting food. As per tradition, we also hosted a SDA vs South Georgia football match. Lauren, Helen and Bodil proudly donned our penguin football kit to represent South Georgia against the visitors. Unfortunately, we were no match for the SDA team which included a professional football player! Ultimately, we were happy to only suffer a small loss of 7-0.

Bodil taking a tumble during the SDA vs South Georgia football match


The December weather was very changeable – a classic for South Georgia. We took full advantage of good weather on days and afternoons off. On one hiking trip we climbed Camp Peak. We also bivyed under the stars but were woken by a surprise flurry of summer snow! It was unseasonably cold throughout the month which did mean at least a partially white South Georgia Christmas.

Hiking up Camp Peak on a windy day. Left to right: Bodil (Museum Assistant), Helen (Curatorial Intern), Lauren (RetailMmanager), Penny (Hungry Humpbacks project), Hannah (Post Officer), Nico (Hungry Humpbacks project)


Waking up to snow on a bivying trip


Taking shelter at Maiviken hut after bivying in the snow. Left to right: Lauren, Hannah and Bodil looking much happier than an hour earlier


Our free time on bad weather days was spent working on our handmade presents for the island-wide Secret Santa. We also spent bad weather evenings having debates made interesting by our inability to Google due to an unreliable internet connection. For instance, what is the difference between turnips, swedes, or neeps? and which is which? Feel free to discuss yourselves – you would be surprised how contentious this debate can get.

Late December saw the return of visiting ships with a whopping five ship visits between 23 and 26 December, and three more before the end of the year. Thankfully the BAS team hosted Christmas dinner. This being my first Christmas and New Year away from family, I am very grateful to have spent it with my new South Georgia family.

The community came together again for New Year’s Eve when the crew from the government fisheries patrol vessel Pharos SG hosted us for the evening. Nothing could stop us, not even the seal acting as bouncer on the gangway. We saw in the New Year with the Pharos crew, BAS team and the Government and Postal Officers.

A fur seal blocking the gangway to Pharos SG on New Year’s Eve. Luckily he deemed us worthy to come aboard and moved to let us board


The New Year started in the same way 2023 ended, very busy, with a cruise ship visit the on the morning of New Year’s Day…

Wishing you all a Happy New Year.