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Museum Victoria holds a significant collection of items relating to the history of Antarctic exploration. These items are mostly images, items of clothing, scientific instruments, artefacts relating to expeditioners' entertainments, philatelic items from Antarctica and medals and other awards. They range through the entire history of Antarctic exploration from early maritime exploration of Antarctica through the Heroic Era of Antarctic exploration to the modern era of scientific exploration and Antarctic tourism.
The main collection groups are:
Phillip Law Collection: Phillip Garth Law (1912-2010) led the Australian exploration of Antarctica for 17 years as Director of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE). During this period ANARE operated from Melbourne. Following his retirement in 1966, Law actively promoted Antarctic heritage and compiled an extensive historical collection relating to Antarctic exploration and research. The Phillip Law Collection of over 1400 items, includes photos, clothing, philatelic covers, banners and plaques - mostly items used by, or presented to Dr Law.
George Rayner Collection: Rayner was a British photographer and biologist based at the research station at Grytviken in the Falkland Islands from around 1928 to 1939. He took part in a number of sub-Antarctic voyages as a member of the scientific staff of the Discovery II research vessel. The primary focus of his research was to establish the seasonal migration patterns of whales. Discovery II and Rayner also participated in the rescue of American aviator Lincoln Ellsworth in 1935-36. Rayner was also an avid photographer of his sub-Antarctic environment. The collection includes photos, clothing, camera and trunk.
The Antarctic Collection also includes items from earlier expeditions including those of Robert Scott (1901-1904), Ernest Shackleton (1907-09 and 1914-17) and Douglas Mawson (1911-1914 and 1929-1931). It includes clothing from Scott's Discovery expedition, an ice sledge used by Bertram Armytage on Shackleton's Nimrod expedition and meteorological equipment from the Ross Sea party of Shackleton's Trans-Antarctic Expedition. There is also material from modern expeditions to Antarctica, Antarctic tourism and environmental campaigns relating to Antarctica.