You are currently viewing January 2023 Museum Blog – Happy New Year!

January 2023 Museum Blog – Happy New Year!

January 2023 Museum Blog – Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from the SGHT Gritvyken team! January has seen fewer visitors at Grytviken which has given us the opportunity to tackle some essential museum maintenance. We are lucky to have a vast space in Grytviken to utilise for displaying objects and this starts right on the front lawn of the museum where some of our larger artefacts are on show. However this does mean the outside objects face the perils that winter in the Southern Hemisphere can bring, so they have to be regularly maintained. With a quieter period, we were able to find a sunny weather window to repaint whaling harpoons, cannons and a tipper truck. Unlike museums back home, we are situated in a very unique location which brings a set of very unique challenges when working – such as navigating around Fur Seals to paint the outdoor objects!

Museum Assistants Helen and Lauren navigate some peculiarly South Georgia problems while completing some maintenance of the outdoor museum objects – working around the fur seals!

2023 has already seen an exciting new development for Grytviken. With the hard work and dedication of the GSGSSI Heritage Build Team, it has been possible to open one of the original whaling station buildings, the Main Store, to our visitors. This building possesses an abundance of original objectss from the whaling era, from harpoons, to engines, and even lampshades! The Main Store was the parts store for Grytviken, and the men on base would come here for any supplies that were needed for their work on the whaling station and whaling ships – everything from harpoon heads to rivets!

Inside the Main Store at Grytviken, visitors can now get a glimpse of how the station would have looked at the height of the whaling era.


Early whaling at Grytviken was an unforgiving task sometimes: long hours and hard manual labour, accompanied with being thousands of miles away from loved ones. Grytviken Whaling Station founder Carl Anton Larsen recognised that entertainment was necessary for his workers and in 1909 built a ‘Forsamilngaalen’ (locally known as ‘Teatersalenn’) which showed plays and other entertainment for the people on base. Although connection to the outside world has evolved since the early twentieth century, making entertainment on base is still equally as important and January saw a celebration of Scottish culture with our very own Burns Night. There were speeches, haggis, neeps and tatties, and hours of ceilidh dancing! Burns Night was a true reflection of the community spirit on station with everyone helping to organise, cook, give speeches, and even get up at 7am the next morning to tidy it all away!

The whole community got involved in the Scottish Burns Night celebrations at the end of the month.


Our community on South Georgia changes frequently to accommodate the scientific, government, heritage or building needs at the time. However, South Georgia is used to saying goodbye to its inhabitants, for example, during the whaling era the industry would sometimes require the men to be stationed here for many months. Working the summer and winter season could mean their time away from loved ones could be as long as a year and half, and some stayed even longer! There are many similarities between life on base now and in the past, and we are fortunate enough as a museum team to witness this during our six-month stay.

A summer season on South Georgia sees lots of arrivals and departures. In January the team waved off Ryan who had been on island for 14 months!


January on South Georgia has been an incredible start to 2023 and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings!