Friday, December 28, 2012

Shackleton Endurance Exhibition

The Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company is running an exhibition of photographs of Sir Ernest Shackleton's famed, and failed, expedition to cross the Antarctic in 1914-1917. The exhibition is being held in the ferry terminal building and cost me €5 admission, which was worth it.

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The story of survival, bravery, cold, ice, endurance, and navigation is now well-known due to a revival of interest in Shackleton in the past few years. This is due to a number of books, eg Michael Smith's excellent "An Unsung Hero", which was about Tom Crean, and the 2002 TV movie "Shackleton" starring Sir Kenneth Branagh in the title role. Another revival of interest is the example of Shackleton's leadership, management, and decision-making skills  which I know is sometimes used in Management classes as a great example of how to do these things right. 28 men took part in the expedition, and thanks to Shackleton's skills - all survived the disaster.

The Exhibition features all the well-known photographs saved during the expedition. There are also some silent movies from the trip - all taken by Frank Hurley. The photos in the exhibition are made from the original glass plates that Hurley made on the expedition. While it was nice to see these copies of the photos, I had seen them all before in various books and TV documentaries. Probably the best bit for me was to see a full scale model of the lifeboat, the James Caird, which Shackleton, his navigator Frank Worsley, and three others used to sail the 800 miles from Elephant Island to South Georgia. The exhibition allows you to test your navigation skills with a sextant in front of a film of high seas, a computer screen displays the results of your "navigation". It was the first time I have ever held a sextant in my hand and needless to say I would have missed South Georgia by hundreds of miles.

The Exhibition is well worth seeing if you are not familiar, or just know a bit about the Endurance Expedition.  Apart from the sextant, there is little new for those whose have read about and are familiar with this incredible story.

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