Polar exploration

Wrap up warm and take a journey to the icy ends of the earth. From the countless attempts to find the fabled North-West Passage in the Arctic Circle, to the race to reach the South Pole, read about the triumphs and the tragedies of history's polar explorers.

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The Terra Nova was built in 1884 as a whaling ship but became better known for her role in Polar exploration and her association with Captain Scott. 

Since North-West Passage exploration began over 400 years ago the polar ice caps have started to melt due to global warming.

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'Aurora Australis' was the "first book ever written, printed, illustrated and bound in the Antarctic".

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In 1741, Anglo-Irish MP Arthur Dobbs commissioned Christopher Middleton, a captain in the Hudson’s Bay Company, to search for the North-West Passage.

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In 1612, explorer Thomas Button sailed in two ships, Resolution and the Discovery, in search of the North-West Passage.

Watercolour showing Noss Head, by Horatio Nelson Head (tile)

For August’s Caird Library and Archive Item of the Month, Graham Thompson presents a collection of drawings by a midshipman who showed much promise, but died young before he had established his reputation as a Royal Navy officer. 

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Henry Hudson was a well-known English explorer and navigator in the 17th century. He was the third explorer to search for the North-West Passage.

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Thomas James’s 1631 voyage to find the North-West Passage became famous thanks to his memoir The Strange and Dangerous Voyage of Captain Thomas James (1633).

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The recent discovery of HMS Terror may shed new light on the much-debated fate of Franklin's final expedition. Our curators, Claire Warrior and Jeremy Michell, cover what we know of the story so far.

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Captain James Cook came out of retirement to look for the North-West Passage in 1776. It was to be his last expedition and he never returned home.

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