The South Australian Museum unveils refurbished Australian Polar Collections gallery

05 February 2018

DM in knighthood suit.jpg

The South Australian Museum has unveiled a new look on level three, with the Mawson Gallery being transformed into the Australian Polar Collections gallery.

This much-loved gallery now features improved displays and digital features and showcases the very best of the Museum’s Antarctic collections highlighting expeditions, biodiversity and the myriad achievements of Sir Douglas Mawson’s life. It also for the first time introduces Sir Hubert Wilkins and John Riddoch Rymill and their collections to the public.

Mr Mark Pharaoh, Senior Collections Manager of Australian Polar Collections at the South Australian, says the redevelopment is a showcase for contemporary and historical Antarctic research.

“It is a magnificent opportunity for the Museum to tell the exciting story of Antarctic exploration,” said Mr Pharaoh.

“Many of us are familiar with Sir Douglas Mawson, the man responsible for the legacy of scientific knowledge of the Antarctic region since the 1910s and Chair of the South Australian Museum Board from 1951-1958. Visitor favourites in the gallery include Mawson’s sled, letters and balaclava, as seen on the first Australian $100 note.

“We are less familiar with Sir Hubert Wilkins, who carried out the first aerial exploration of Antarctica in the 1920s, and John Riddoch Rymill, who won several medals for his survey work in the Antarctic during the 1930s.

“Then there are the contemporary Antarctic researchers, including the Museum’s very own Associate Professor Mark Stevens, as well as me, whose current day work is also represented in the updated gallery.

“With these new additions, the transformation of the Mawson Gallery into the Australian Polar Collections Gallery will create a new chapter for sharing the history of South Australian exploration in the Antarctic,” said Mr Pharaoh.

Funding to renew the gallery was generously donated by the Mawson Collection Trust, which is made up of descendants of the late Sir Douglas Mawson, and through a public appeal.

Sir Douglas Mawson’s grandson Alun Thomas said it was an honor to help promote and encourage scientific research and education.

“It’s great to be able to work on this redevelopment, help preserve the history of my grandfather and continue to share his story with Australia,” he said.

The gallery is now open to the public, just in time for the school holidays.