South Georgia Museum Blog – March 2023
On South Georgia, time has a habit of getting away from you – and this season has been no different. One moment the team were arriving on the island, and the next we were busy deep-cleaning and packing up! However, before we tackled our end of season tasks, we still had plenty of visitors to welcome and some very special occasions to celebrate!
We have been lucky to have several weddings held in the church at Grytviken this season. The final one was held in the middle of March and the team were delighted to help the bride get ready in the museum. There can’t be many brides that walk to their wedding wearing wellies and a waterproof jacket over their dress!
In between ship visits, the team got involved in the station’s annual ‘South Georgia Regatta’. This is held every year on the lake above Grytviken and participants all construct their own vessel, before racing it from one side of the lake to the other. This year’s boats came in a variety of forms but ultimately it was our Post Master, Matt, that was victorious with his unique design – a model post box with a black bin bag for a sail!
By the middle of March, it was time to get the Quest crow’s nest ready for its long journey home. Kindly loaned to us by All Hallows by the Tower, the barrel comes from Shackleton’s final expedition ship, the Quest, and has been a highlight for visitors to the South Georgia Museum this season. After some careful packaging, the barrel was transported to the British Antarctic Survey base at King Edward Point, from where it will return to the UK on board the British Antarctic Survey’s RRS Sir David Attenborough.
Before the team departed the island at the end of March, our most important task was to winterise the museum for the next six months. This involves putting away our outside signs and benches to protect them from the winter snow. We also removed some of our more fragile aobjects from display to allow them a chance to ‘rest’ between seasons. This is particularly important for paper and textile objects as they are more susceptible to light damage. By giving them some time off from being on display, we can ensure that they remain in good condition for future generations to enjoy.
Finally, it started to get a bit colder and the first dusting of snow arrived – a clear sign that it was time for the museum team to head home! Helen, Lauren and Aoife departed first on board the Greg Mortimer and were lucky to get to visit several other sites around South Georgia before sailing to the Falkland Islands. Only a few days later, Deirdre followed suit on board the Sylvia Earle. The journey home from South Georgia can be an epic one and this season was no different. The team record was set by Deirdre, who departed South Georgia on the 26th March and finally reached home on 15th April – 21 days later!
But now that the team are all safely home, how best to sum up the season? We saw 103 ship visits, welcomed over 13500 visitors and delivered 131 whaling station tours. However, numbers can’t tell the whole story! The team also hiked mountains, hosted ceilidhs, assisted the scientists to weigh fur seal pups and ran half marathons. Time might go quickly on South Georgia but we really made the most of it!