Christchurch's Canterbury Museum is well known to most Antarcticans. Its collections displayed in the 'Hall of Antarctic Discovery'--opened in 1977 and refurbished since my last visit so there may have been some rearrangement--are extensive, expansive and important; and I'm sure there's a lot more stashed away in the back rooms! Is there any doubt that this is the most comprehensive collection of Antarcticana anywhere? Very centrally located on Rolleston Avenue and adjoining the superb Botanic Gardens, the Museum's a must for all those visiting New Zealand. (Tip: When I was last there I stayed at the nearby, modern and affordable YMCA.)
What are some of the highlights? Among the artifacts that caught my fancy were a china plate from HMS Erebus; a compass and sextant from the Southern Cross expedition; quite a few philatelic items; busts of Scott (by his wife), Shackleton, Amundsen, Byrd and Mawson; Hurley's Kodak Model B pocket camera; Amundsen's sledge with its zinc runner plates, the Norwegian flag flown at the Pole and his pocket knife; an oil painting of Shackleton's Nimrod done on a venesta case board (also used to bind copies of the Aurora Australis); Scott's ceremonial hat, belt, epaulettes, sword, polar medal and Legion of Honor (wolfskin gloves, too); Shackleton's Arrol Johnson motor sledge; a bottle of champagne (Methuselah size - 6-1/2 quarts!) emptied in celebration of Byrd's safe return from the first flight to the Pole (inscribed by expedition members); Wilson's microscope; a box of cigars from Scott's last expedition with typed inscription "for final dash, compliments of the Sol factory, Havana;" original plan and inscription for the Cape Evans cross in memory of A. E. Mackintosh; and the silver communion vessels from Scott's Cape Evans hut. And that's just for a start!
By the way, don't miss the associated P.J. Skellerup Antarctic Library.