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ICS Sydney - International Conservation Services

ics_mawsonshut.jpgICS in Antarctica


We have been conserving and managing moveable heritage in Antarctica since 1996.  Most of our work has been with artefacts from the heroic era of Antarctic exploration.

Between 1996 and 2000, ICS conservator Peter Maxwell spent four summers documenting, assessing and conserving some of the 15,000 artefacts at Shackleton's Hut at Cape Royds, Borchgrevink's hut at Cape Adare, and the huts of Scott at Cape Evans and Hut Point, all in the Ross Sea Region.  This work was carried out on behalf of the Antarctic Heritage Trust of New Zealand.

In 1997 and again in 1998 ICS undertook research projects to develop conservation strategies for the cans of food, the most vulnerable artefacts in these Ross Sea historic huts.

ics_dougrogan.jpgIn 2000-2001 we developed strategies for the care and management of the moveable heritage collection at Mawson's Hut, Cape Denison.  These strategies were incorporated into the Conservation Management Plan produced in 2001 by Godden Mackay Logan.

In 2002 ICS prepared the moveable heritage sections of the Conservation Plan for Shackleton's Hut at Cape Royds.  In the following year, we completed the same task for the three other historic huts in the region at Cape Adare, Cape Evans and Hut Point. These major documents have been signed off by the New Zealand Government and are used to manage all aspects of the ongoing care of the huts.

Over the summer season of 2003/04, Julian Bickersteth, the Managing Director of ICS spent time at the Ross Sea historic huts assessing their conservation needs and developing management strategies.

This led to further works in 2004/05 on the long term conservation of the collections, and since then ICS has:

  • ics_jb.jpgdeveloped a collections management plan for the moveable heritage
  • improved and enhanced the database (Vernon) used for managing the collection
  • sent Doug Rogan, our Senior Collections Manager, to the historic huts for six weeks in November/December 2005 to assess and pack up artefacts to bring back to Scott Base (NZ)
  • designed and fitted out a mobile conservation laboratory which was shipped to Scott Base; and is taken out to the historic huts when required
  • employed three conservators to winter over during 2006 at Scott Base (NZ) to commence conservation of the collections, and assisted with recruitment for subsequent seasons

During 2006, we managed the first successful winter season of conservation at Scott Base. Three conservators worked on artefacts from Shackleton's Hut at Cape Royds, conserving more than 500 individual items ranging from primus stoves to tins of tripe.

ICS has prepared an implementation plan for the conservation of artefacts from Scott's Hut in Cape Evans, which will require four years of work to complete. Julian Bickersteth spent three weeks in the Antarctic during November 2006 to coordinate the return of conserved artefacts to Shackleton's Hut at Cape Royds, and prepare for the next season of artefacts conservation on ice.

ICS also assists the Mawson's Huts Foundation with planning for and conservation of artefacts at Mawson's Huts.

ICS has unparalleled experience with the particular needs of Antarctic collections, the protocols necessary for dealing with moveable heritage on the ice, and in sub Antarctic regions, and the conservation strategies and techniques required to ensure their long term survival.

Julian Bickersteth has also become more broadly involved in polar hertiage work and is currently the President elect of the ICOMOS International Polar Heritage Committee.