Curator who survived six months in South Pole tent returns to Museum of Science and Industry

By Culture24 Staff | 25 March 2010
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A photo of an Antarctic snow scene

Fran Clarke lived in a tent in sub-zero conditions (above)

A curator who survived sub-zero temperatures and savage storms in a gruelling impersonation of Captain Scott's immortal South Pole expedition has returned to the Museum of Science and Industry.

Fran Clarke spent six months battling temperatures as low as –75 degrees during stints in a tent at Scott Base, in the Ross Sea area of Antarctica, and at Terra Nova, the hut where the legendary explorer lived for three years during his Antarctic expeditions.

A photo of an ancient wooden box from a 1907 Antarctic expedition

The team used sledges to move relics from Captain Scott's original escapades

She used a sledge to move industrial objects as part of a mission to return artefacts left by Scott’s 1911 mission to their original positions.

"We used photographic evidence to start putting things back to where they were in 1911 – the idea was to make it look like the explorers had just left," she said.

"It's a place of extremes. There were the most mental storms, with poor visibility, horrible noisy wind, and then at other times it could be the most peaceful place on earth.

"For every job you got done you had to add the Antarctic factor – it's very cold, you can't just walk from A to B as it's uneven ground and the amount of clothing you need to wear restricts your movement hugely."

A photo of a woman in a white scientific suit in a hut smiling

The intrepid MOSI explorer immersed herself in seal blubber

Her tasks included conserving a stove caked in seal blubber and using an acetylene tank to generate power for her fellow crew members from the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

Clarke is now preparing the collection from her Manchester day job ahead of the Museum's new Revolution Manchester Gallery, which will open in the autumn as part of a £7 million redevelopment project.

"It was a real sense of achievement and privilege to be working on an important historic preservation project," she reflected.

"I went somewhere that most people will never get the chance to go to."

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