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About the Scott Polar Research Institute


The University of Cambridge's Scott Polar Research Institute is one of the world's most famous institutes for the study of the science, technology, history and culture of the polar regions.

These online resources allow you to see what happens behind the scenes at the museum, library and archives. You will also meet scientists and look at the history of polar exploration.

Introduction to the Archive – Documents

The archive of the Scott Polar Research Institute stores over a million documents; including material from explorers, scientists, historians and people working in the polar regions.

It includes various items; from notes written in pencil, in the field in sub-zero conditions, right through to desk studies and research papers.

About three metres (or 1½ shelves) of new material is added every year.

Introduction to Museum Objects

All the items that are not on display in the museum gallery are held in the reserve stores.

The items are stored here to enable researchers and staff to examine materials easily and to work on them.

In addition to small items held in drawers and on racks, storage is provided for larger items such as kayaks, sledges and skis.

Environmental control of temperature and humidity ensures that all items in the stores are safely preserved for the future. Textiles and animal skins are stored in a separate room and the museum's conservators examine them regularly to prevent damage caused by moths and other insects.

SPRI Tea Bell

The ship's bell from Scott's second expedition which sailed on the "Terra Nova" was salvaged by a member of Scott's expedition and given to the Scott Polar Research Institute.

The bell is rung every day to gather everybody together in the Institute for a cup of tea or coffee. Ship's time is used; so five bells (at 10:30am) or eight bells (at 4pm) are rung depending on the time of day.