After a day in Philadelphia, I headed off for Annapolis to stay with a friend and to pay a return visit to the Naval Academy Museum, located in Preble Hall (just inside the gates of the Academy at 118 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21402-5034. Tel: 410-293-2108). http://www.nadn.navy.mil/Museum/ Preble Hall, a grandly impressive building, is home to a museum that's really a joy to visit--and not just because it's open every day, there's no admission charge and there are no hoards of people! There's just a lot of interesting stuff there, including some Antarcticana. Among the items on display:
A bronze bust of R. E. Byrd, set on a marble stand to which is affixed a brass plaque reading: "RADM Richard E. Byrd, Jr. USN 1888-1957 By Benjamin T. Gilbert Presented by Mrs Benjamin T. Gilbert."
Residing in a glass case is the "dress chapeau of Commodore Charles Wilkes USN, who commanded the U.S. Exploring Expedition to the Antarctic 1838-42. This is the regulation cocked hat of 1841. Presented by Mrs C. D. Hull."
On the shelf below is displayed the "sextant used by Surgeon John L. Fox, USN on the Wilkes Antarctic Expedition 1838-1842. Presented by his son, Rear Admiral Charles E. Fox and his grandsons Edward G. B. Fox and Lcdr J. L. Fox, USN."
Nearby is the "Patron's gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society, London, awarded to Captain Edwin A. MacDonald NA '31 for Antarctic 'Operation Deepfreeze'."
Not on view but in the collections is the familiar oil portrait of Wilkes by Thomas Sully, (an engraved version appears in the Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition...); a portrait of Byrd by Duncan (the gift of Louis Storgion); and a container of water apparently from an Antarctic ice core and employed at recent graduations (at which waters from the Seven Seas are mixed together, seniors partaking in some manner from the mix).
Also, and again not on view, are two sledges: I had read in Quartermain's Two Huts in the Antarctic (p 64) that a Scott sledge had ended up at the Museum. Jim Cheevers, the knowledgeable Senior Curator, was momentarily stumped. Some checking revealed that such a sledge was, indeed, in the collection but in deep, deep storage! I never did see it but Jim was able to report that it had been "Found at McMurdo Sound, Ross Sea, on the site of Captain R. F. Scott's base camp for his 1901-03 expedition. Presented by Cdr. G. L. Ketchum, USN. Letter of acknowledgement written on 3 August 1948. Sled 137x21 inches. 5 cross bar supports. Skis 95-1/2 x 3 in. Marked L. H. Haben & Co. Mfg by Christiania."
In storage as well, but extricated for me, is a Byrd sledge: "Constructed of wood secured by leather straps. 8 feet long. Used by Adl. Byrd in first expedition to south pole. Presented May 1967 by Mrs Marjorie Meriweather Post. On center wood strip: 'The Byrd Antarctic Expedition Bay of Whales Little America Nov. 11, 1929. Made by S. Strom Presented to Mrs Joseph E. Davies. 1936.'" There are two bamboo ski poles attached.
For Arcticans, there's quite a bit here, too.