This is a collection of international significance, particularly those items relating to early Arctic exploration.

There are 690 items divided between material associated with the 1845 Franklin expedition and polar equipment and clothing associated with later Arctic and Antarctic expeditions.

Franklin expedition of 1845.

Our polar collections comprise, firstly, relics of the Franklin expedition of 1845. As there were no survivors and little documentation, the personal possessions of the officers and crew brought back by search parties provide some evidence of the course of the expedition and the fate of its members.

Other 19th-century arctic expeditions

The remainder of the polar collection includes equipment and clothing and also geological and zoological specimens used or brought back by other 19th-century British arctic expeditions. This includes early Arctic clothing used by Sir Francis Leopold McClintock and a particularly strong collection of clothing and equipment used during George Nares’ attempt on the North Pole in 1875-76.

Antarctic polar exploration relics

The Antarctic material relates to the heroic age, in particular Douglas Mawson’s expedition of 1911-14, with some items from the two expeditions led by Robert Falcon Scott in 1901 and 1910. There is also material from Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.