Art and Objects at the Polar Museum

The view upon entering the temporary gallery space

When an unexpected gap in programming opened up in the Polar Museum’s exhibition calendar, they very generously asked if I might like to do something about the graphic novel to fill the space between shows. Vol.1 is only the journey to Antarctica, and therefore not very polar, as such, so we decided the best approach was to talk about bringing the personages of the Expedition to life as fully rounded characters in a finished page of graphic novel (and how the Scott Polar Research Institute’s archives and museum collection helped to do that).

The wall of character studies, highlighting Atkinson as a case in point.

People get whole degrees in museum sciences, and it’s a very competitive field to get into; I was coming at it as a complete noob with only a great love of museums and knowing what I like to see in them, so I felt like a bit of an interloper. But the Curator and Education Officer at SPRI/The Polar Museum are knowledgeable and experienced, and kept the show on the straight and narrow. (The depot-laying illustrations around the skirting board were the Education Officer’s idea for how to interest the smaller kids – I’d never have thought of that.) It’s come out as a sort of cross between an art gallery, a reliquary, and an old-fashioned Making Of special, but it’s been well-received so far, so we must be doing something right, however unconventional.

A small selection of Precious Things which give insight into personalities and relationships among the men of the Expedition.

It’s also been getting people interested in the book, which is a mixed blessing: publicity is always welcome, but, for boring publishing reasons, we still don’t have a release date to give them. We’re hoping that by the end of the run (probably mid-October) we can say when it’ll be out – but if we knew when that announcement would be, we would have the necessary information, and be able to tell people now.

So, all I can advise is that if you’re interested in the graphic novel, or polar history more generally, and are convenient to Cambridge, get yourself to the Polar Museum on Lensfield Road (Weds-Sat 10:00-16:00) and have a look-see. The permanent collection at the museum is one of the best in the world, so make time for that, too! As for a release date, stay tuned to this blog or my social media, because I will be shouting it to high heaven as soon as I have something to shout.

The wall showing how a page of graphic novel goes from the original text of the book to final colour artwork.

Bringing The Worst Journey in the World to Life

at the Polar Museum
Lensfield Road, Cambridge, UK
now through mid-October 2022
Wednesday – Saturday, 10:00-16:00

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