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Rare Shackleton Antarctic photos unveiled

15:10 Tue Dec 10 2013
AAP

Nearly 100-year-old photographs taken during one of Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic expeditions have been revealed for the first time.

Twenty-two negatives - many of them damaged - have been painstakingly conserved after they were discovered by the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust at Robert Falcon Scott's hut at Cape Evans earlier this year.

The clumped-together cellulose nitrate negatives were found in a small box in Scott expedition photographer Herbert Ponting's darkroom.

They were brought back to New Zealand where photographic conservator Mark Strange separated, cleaned (including removing mould) and consolidated the images.

The photographer's identity is not known.

"One of the most striking images is of Ross Sea Party member Alexander Stevens, Shackleton's chief scientist, standing on board the Aurora," said trust executive director Nigel Watson.

Although many of the images are damaged, the Antarctic Heritage Trust was able to recognise landmarks around McMurdo Sound.

"It's an exciting find and we are delighted to see them exposed after a century. It's testament to the dedication and precision of our conservation teams efforts to save Scott's Cape Evans hut."

Shackleton's ill-fated 1914-1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic expedition used Scott's hut as a shelter when the Aurora blew out to sea.

The Ross Sea Party was meant to lay supply depots for Shackleton and his party crossing the continent from the Weddell Sea, but it never landed.

The photographs can be seen at the trust's website www.nzaht.org.