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March 2019: Leaving the penguins in charge

By Director, Sarah Lurcock

NG Explorer was one of the last ships through for the season. A vivid rainbow connected the ship to the cemetery where the passengers were landing

Although there were less cruise ship visits in March compared to the rest of the season, by the time we added three yachts, a navy ship, two research ships and the SG Government hosted ‘Stakeholders Visit’ on fishery patrol vessel Pharos SG, it did not feel much quieter, especially as there is a lot of work to be done putting the museum into hibernation for the winter. As well as all the usual things we do, we were inventorying, making order lists, storing vulnerable artefacts that had been on display, taking in the outdoor signs, benches and table, finalising accounts, finishing off all those jobs started months ago, and leaving everything neat and clean ready for next season . So much for winding down!

One job that has long been planned was to put some representative things inside our super replica of the James Caird; the lifeboat that was key to the rescue of the shipwrecked men of the Endurance. Whereas formerly, when you climbed the steps to look inside our replica, you saw the small interior and a furled sail or two, now you see sledging boxes, stuff sacks, a reindeer skin and stove, all sitting on rocks, which in the original boat had been added as ballast for the journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia. If we have done it right we hope those looking now ask themselves where the five men fitted in as well….it must have been so cramped and uncomfortable.

Unearthing the complex firepit around some trypots
One of the archaeologists studies the sealing artefacts in the SG Museum

We had an exciting day with the SGHT Archaeological Survey expedition. They had spent weeks investigating early sealing sites around the island. They brought in a selection of artefacts they had recovered and showed us photographs of the sites they had worked on and of the significant discoveries made. They were interested to see artefacts already held at the museum from some of the same sites, and discovered that the section of a cooking pot they had found was from the same pot that the museum had a fragment of. From these two pieces they should be able to generate a 3D image of the whole pot. People were able to follow the fortunes of this expedition on Facebook and Twitter. The blogs on the website at the links below will continue to be updated.

Outside of work the museum team enjoyed opportunities such as: sailing around from Maiviken on the beautiful tall ship Bark Europa; playing football again HMS Clyde, who were being invigorated with music played by a piper – a fabulous sound to ring around the hills of the Cove; walking over to the vast king penguin colony at St Andrews when invited to join the BAS folks on a short holiday; and one last opportunity to assist the scientists with work on the fur seal pups which showed that this year’s puppies are doing very well.

Laura’s shoes and socks were coated with burnet burrs after the match
The piper from HMS Clyde

Just before we left, our curator Finlay took down the ‘Scarf Stories’ exhibition which we took with us to Stanley where it will be installed in the Falkland Island Museum. He also moved the four remaining paintings by last season’s Artist in Residence, Theo Crutchley-Mack, to the temporary exhibition area where they will remain on show next season. The larger space they vacated is now waiting for a new exhibition on the major expeditions of the island which will be installed at the start of next season.

The wonderful Knit and Natter Bi-Polar penguins arrived on one of the last ships of the season. This wonderful menagerie of hand crocheted and knitted penguins were made to help raise funds for the SGHT by the Knit and Natter group in Scotland. To reach us aboard Silver Cloud they travelled via both the Arctic and Antarctic Circles, making them truly bi-polar. They will start their travels again next summer as they will be auctioned on the visiting cruise ships to raise funds for SGHT projects. Meanwhile they should be in their element in the unheated museum for the winter where we have left them in charge as we, the 2019-20 museum team, head home to England, Scotland, Australia and Germany after another eventful and successful summer on South Georgia.