Lizzie Meek taps away on a laptop screen, wearing fingerless gloves and a heavy coat on a late December day in 2014. The inside of the wood building is frosty cold, and each exhale of breath seems almost ghostly, as conservator Annick Vuissoz holds up a pick with a long wood handle and forged head. It’s the next piece to be replaced.
The program manager of artifacts for the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust is all business, but today is anything but a typical day in the office. In less than a week, about 500 artifacts from the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration will have been returned to the expedition base known as Discovery Hut. Each item has its place based on the meticulous database of notes and pictures on Meek’s computer.
Built more than a century ago by Briton Robert Falcon Scott and his men, the hut sits on the tip of Ross Island’s Hut Point Peninsula like an abandoned vacation home – if one’s idea of a holiday involved subfreezing temperatures, hurricane-force winds and months of total darkness in the winter.
The pieces – ranging from crates stamped with expedition names to cloth bags of rations to banged-up metal pots – have been painstakingly repaired and conserved at a lab only a couple of miles away at New Zealand’s Scott Base. Return of the artifacts represents the culmination of a two-year project to conserve Discovery Hut that began last year with extensive restoration of the building itself.
Source:: Antarctic Sun Featured Articles