About the exhibition
Honouring the achievements of Sir Ernest Shackleton and the men of the Endurance Expedition of 1914-1917, newly digitised images reveal previously unseen details of the crew’s epic struggle for survival both before and after their ship was destroyed.
At the heart of the exhibition are more than ninety high resolution images, taken by Shackleton’s official expedition photographer Frank Hurley, and saved by him under the most extreme circumstances to provide a lasting record of the men of the Endurance and their story.
For the first time, the fragile glass plate and celluloid negatives, stored securely at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) for more than 80 years, have been digitised directly from the originals. Now viewed at full definition, the images unlock the remarkable detail captured originally by Hurley in his photographic processing, including interior images of the Endurance and high resolution information of life on the pack ice of the Weddell Sea.
As one of the first truly modern documentary photographers and film-makers, Australian born Hurley hoped to have his images seen at as large scale size as possible. 100 years later, this intention will be honoured with giant dimension prints, some over 2 metres in width and height, at the heart of the exhibition, providing viewers with a sense of awe and wonder.
In addition to the newly digitised images, the exhibition will include a number of ‘precious survivors’ – personal artefacts that were carried through every stage of the successive journeys for survival from the Weddell Sea to Elephant Island and onto South Georgia. These include the Bible from the Society’s collections, originally presented to Shackleton by Queen Alexandra on visiting the Endurance on 16 July 1914 and inscribed by her.
The exhibition has been researched, written and curated by Meredith Hooper, the Antarctic historian, writer and broadcaster, from original source material in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, whilst also drawing also on information provided by descendants of some of the 28 men on the expedition.
Exhibition Booklet Text (PDF)
The complete Enduring Eye exhibition, as displayed at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG):
The Enduring Eye: the Antarctic Legacy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Hurley exhibition has recently toured the U.K. at the following venues:
Manchester Central Library (April – June 2016)
The Library of Birmingham (January – May 2017)
The National Library of Scotland (June – November 2017)
Hull Maritime Museum (March – June 2018)
Any future tour dates will be announced here.
During the tour of the exhibition, Shackleton's Endurance: Discovering Our Shared Antarctic Heritage, a project enabled by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is exploring local links to the Endurance expedition and the ways in which the experiences of the men - and their knowledge of Antarctica - came to be shared, understood, and then inspire people across the United Kingdom. Local links and visitor reminiscences will be posted throughout the exhibition's tour.
Share with us your own family links with the expedition; perhaps through a relative who saw one of the talks or film screenings, or perhaps you have a personal link to the men of the expedition or some other connection to the legacy of their endeavour?
A book which accompanies the exhibition can be purchased from the RGS Print Store.
Enduring Eye is kindly supported by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT), with the Governments of the British Antarctic Territory and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.
The Society acknowledges the generosity of the UKAHT as lead supporter of the curation and creation of the exhibition and in contributing specialist knowledge and expertise to the exhibition as part of its role in the protection, conservation and promotion of the public understanding of the United Kingdom’s Antarctic heritage. We also thank Rolex for its support of the Society’s Picture Library and contribution toward conservation of its collections.
The Society is involved in significant areas of work around Antarctica.
Our educational resources for schools include our websites Discovering Antarctica and Discovering the Arctic and our highly popular Key Stage 1-2 teaching resource Exploring Shackleton's Antarctica.
The Society's Grants Programme develops new knowledge and advances geographical science, supporting geographical research in the UK and overseas, including Antarctica.
Upcoming Enduring Eye events
[In-person] Award-winning filmmaker, James Levelle, shares stories from his 9,000-mile emission-free odyssey from the UK to Chile to champion young voices in the climate crisis,.
[In-person] Join us for this teacher CPD session to hear from Dr Holly Ayres, a climate researcher from the University of Reading, who will be presenting on the Polar climate, Weddell Sea Polynya, and the significance of sea ice loss in the region.
[Online] Your CV is the first chance to impress a potential employer. In our May Professional insights webinar professionals will reveal what they look for in CVs and give tips on how to maximise your impact.
[Online] Join our Chartered Geographer coffee morning to meet and network with other Chartered Geographers.