Culture / Art Republik

Frozen Images

Conservators uncover 100-year-old negatives in a block of ice in Antarctica

Mar 06, 2014 | By Staff Writer

 This post is unlike other posts on this site. This post is less about the artistic qualities of photograhs, and more about the stories behind them.

Recently, the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust led a mission in Antarctica to restore an old exploration hut. Instead, they received more than they were seeking. By a stroke of luck, the conservators uncovered a box of old negatives preserved in a block of ice. These cellulose nitrate negatives estimated to be over a 100 years old and were nothing short of priceless buried treasure. It is believed that these negatives are from Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Ross Sea Party. During Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic Expedition, his group was stranded in the exploration hut the conservators are attempting to restore during a blizzard. Although they were rescued, the box of negatives were left behind and got buried and preserved in the ice.

A photography conservator from this New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust has examined and processed these negatives, revealing the historic mysteries each represents.  The processed imaged gives us a sense of the adventurers and expeditions of the past. AHT Executive Director Nigel Watson explains that, “It’s the first example that I’m aware of undeveloped negatives from a century ago from the Antarctic heroic era. There’s a paucity of images from that expedition.”


Frozen Images Frozen Images 1 Frozen Images 2 Frozen Images 3 Frozen Images 4 Frozen Images 5


Learn more about the Antarctic Heritage Trust Project here

Images from


Back to top