25 May, 2007

Ice Station Antarctica at the Natural History Museum challenges kids to understand the importance of the frozen continent

Antarctica is a continent 58 times the size of the and it plays a crucial role in understanding global climate change, but one in ten Brits doesn’t know where it is and a third of us still think polar bears live there. The Natural History Museum today (25 May 2007) launches Ice Station Antarctica, a new family blockbuster exhibition developed in partnership with the British Antarctic Survey that challenges kids to survive the extreme conditions faced by scientists researching this fragile continent, and to find out how Antarctica affects the rest of the planet.

Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and most remote place on Earth. According to research revealed today by the Natural History Museum, many Brits really have got the wrong idea about the continent. One in five of us thinks there are cars, roads, ice rinks or ski lifts there, one in ten thinks it is inhabited by Inuits. Some people even think abominable snowmen can be found there. We really must be worrying about melting ice caps too, as a quarter of those asked thought hairdryers are banned in Antarctica .

Natural History Museum’s exhibition developer Alex Gaffikin explains ‘Every year hundreds of scientists and staff travel to Antarctica, braving harsh conditions and freezing temperatures in order to carry out crucial scientific research – but most people couldn’t even imagine what it really is like to live and work there. At our latest blockbuster experience Ice Station Antarctica we’ll see if visitors have got what it takes to brave Antarctica by challenging all ‘Ice Cadets’ to a series of activities through which they can learn more about the continent, the animals that live there and the valuable research that takes place.’

Director of British Antarctic Survey, Professor Chris Rapley, CBE said

“Today’s society faces unprecedented changes to our global environment. It’s vitally important that we have the best scientists available to understand issues like climate change, and the impact this will have on our planet.  Attracting the next generation of scientists can start now at Ice Station Antarctica.  We embarked on this partnership with the Natural History Museum to enthuse young people in our science and operations. I would hope that children visiting this exhibition will become scientists, citizens and policy makers who will ensure that not only do we continue to get the best scientific research but who will also help future governments make informed decisions about adapting to global change.”

At Ice Station Antarctica a series of mini-environments help you learn about and explore this unique continent including:

  • get out in the field – experience camping in a tent, where scientists have to melt ice for cooking and washing, and use basic toilet facilities for days on end
  • have lunch in the dark – glimpse the 24-hour darkness winter residents have to cope with
  • hold your nose – endure the sights and smells of working in a penguin colony
  • dress up – try walking in special Antarctic clothing

Designed for families, especially children aged seven and over, Ice Station Antarctica is a new hands-on family blockbuster experience at the Natural History Museum , giving you the chance to become an Antarctic expert. Developed in partnership with the British Antarctic Survey, Ice Station Antarctica is one of the highlights of the ’s involvement in International Polar Year (2007/8).

Ice Station Antarctica visitor information

25 May 2007 – 20 April 2008, 10.00–17.50

Natural History Museum , Cromwell road, London, SW7 5BD

Admission: £7, £4.50 concessions, £19 family (up to five, minimum one adult, maximum two). free for Members, Patrons and children aged three and under.

Booking (from 1 April 2007): www.nhm.ac.uk/ice-station-antarctica

(a transaction fee applies on all advance tickets)

Website: www.nhm.ac.uk

Visitor enquiries: 020 7942 5000

Notes for editors:

Research results are based on responses from around 1,200 visitors to the Antarctica quiz hosted on the Natural History Museum website (www.nhm.ac.uk). Research took place 16–21 May 2007.

Eighteen countries operate year-round research stations in Antarctica which support up to 10,000 scientists in the Antarctica summer in carrying out vital research into topics such as climate change, the ozone hole, glaciology, space weather, wildlife and geology.

Winner of the 2004 Large Visitor Attraction of the Year award, the Natural History Museum is also a world-leading science research centre. Through its collections and scientific expertise, the Museum is helping to conserve the extraordinary richness and diversity of the natural world with groundbreaking projects in 68 countries. The Museum is committed to encouraging public engagement with science.

After the Museum, the exhibition will tour extensively in Europe and beyond

British Antarctic Survey is a world leader in research into global issues in an Antarctic context. It is the ’s national operator and is a component of the Natural Environment Research Council. It has an annual budget of around £40 million, runs nine research programmes and operates five research stations, two Royal Research Ships and five aircraft in and around Antarctica . More information about the work of the survey is at www.antarctica.ac.uk

International Polar Year (IPY) 2007/2008 is the largest co-ordinated international scientific effort for 50 years. From ice sheets and space science to Arctic communities and the creatures of the Southern Ocean, IPY includes more than 200 Arctic and Antarctic projects and harnesses the skills of 50,000 people including scientists, students and support staff from more than 60 nations. Hundreds of scientists from 65 universities and other institutions are taking part in 120 polar projects during IPY. Ice Station Antarctica is a major public engagement project for BAS during IPY.

Ice Station Antarctica is sponsored by travel company Voyages of Discovery. Voyages of Discovery has expanded over the past 25 years to establish itself as a true destination-led cruising specialist, offering ocean voyages rarely found in other cruise programmes. From traditional roots in the eastern Mediterranean and Red Sea, its year-round programme now features a wider selection of cruises than ever before, with out-of-the-ordinary destinations that include the Galapagos, South America and the South Pacific. Voyages of Discovery’s 2007/8 Antarctica programme will be its biggest and best to date, following the recent announcement that it will be leasing the Explorer II (formerly Swan Hellenic’s Minerva) and operating it alongside the spacious Discovery to the spectacular environs of the ‘white continent’. Further information is at www.voyagesofdiscovery.com

Issued jointly by British Antarctic Survey and Natural History Museum .

BAS Press Office:

Athena Dinar, Tel: 01223 221414, Mob: 07740 822229 Email: a.dinar@bas.ac.uk

Linda Capper, Tel: 01223 221448, Mob: 07714 233744 Email: l.capper@bas.ac.uk

NHM Press Office:

Claire Gilby or Claudine Fontana Tel: 020 7942 5654 Email: press@nhm.ac.uk