Google Street View Opens Up a Look at Shackleton’s Antarctic

The dis­cov­ery of the South Pole is a sto­ry whose hero seems to change with every telling. Some­times it’s Robert Scott, some­times Nor­we­gian Roald Amund­sen, and, most recent­ly, Scott’s pro­tégé, Sir Ernest Shack­le­ton. All three—and geol­o­gist Sir Dou­glas Mawson—are essen­tial char­ac­ters in a series of ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry expe­di­tions to a for­bid­ding ter­ri­to­ry near­ly inac­ces­si­ble to the aver­age human being. Now, Google has opened up the Antarc­tic for every­one to explore from the safe­ty of padded office chairs, com­fy couch­es, and cof­fee-shop seat­ing. Google Street View was launched in May 2007 and has since expand­ed its scope to give the aver­age user visu­al access to some fair­ly remote and exot­ic loca­tions. Google’s World Won­ders Project pro­vides aston­ish­ing views of an ancient Zen Tem­ple in Kyoto and the coasts of Dorset and East Devon in Eng­land, among many oth­er stun­ning sites. Most recent­ly, Google Street View has made avail­able 360-degree views of the wood­en huts used by Robert Scott and Ernest Shack­le­ton a cen­tu­ry ago dur­ing their Antarc­tic expe­di­tions. (Start your tour here.)

Both Scot­t’s and Shack­le­ton’s huts have been pre­served intact as his­tor­i­cal sites by New Zealand’s Antarc­tic Her­itage Trust. The explor­ers’ tools and sup­plies, in their orig­i­nal arrange­ment, are on full dis­play in detailed panoram­ic images of the huts’ interiors—a depar­ture from the typ­i­cal exte­ri­or per­spec­tives of Street View. Also view­able in the Antarc­tic series of views is the Cape Royds Adelie Pen­guin Rook­ery, the world’s south­ern­most pen­guin colony and home to many thou­sands of Adelie pen­guins. Like all Street View images, includ­ing the Scott and Shack­le­ton huts, the Rook­ery views are static—images of bygone moments frozen in time—but they are no less breath­tak­ing for it.

The image below shows the inte­ri­or of Shackleton’s hut and all of its belong­ings.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Tour the Ama­zon with Google Street View; No Pass­port Need­ed

Google Art Project Expands, Bring­ing 30,000 Works of Art from 151 Muse­ums to the Web

Josh Jones is cur­rent­ly a doc­tor­al stu­dent in Eng­lish at Ford­ham Uni­ver­si­ty and a co-founder and for­mer man­ag­ing edi­tor of Guer­ni­ca / A Mag­a­zine of Arts and Pol­i­tics.

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