Escape from Antarctica

Promotional image for the Shackleton - Escape from Antarctica exhibition.

Discover how the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914 became, in the words of Sir Edmund Hillary, 'the greatest survival story ever undertaken'.

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  • About


    Now open until 28 March 2016

    A survival story for the ages.

    Antarctica, 1914. The temperature is below freezing, the winds are strong and the seas are rough. Your ship is trapped in the ice and after months of drifting, you endure several harrowing days in open water, only to be marooned on an uninhabited island.

    With food running out and disaster imminent, you have only one chance at survival: paddle a leaking, wooden boat 1400 kilometres across treacherous waters to another island, where you will have to scale mountains and cross glaciers to reach help.

    Could you do it? Would you survive?

    A brand new exhibition

    Shackleton: Escape from Antarctica shows how Anglo-Irish adventurer Sir Ernest Shackleton saved all 28 of the men aboard the doomed ship Endurance, in what Sir Edmund Hillary described as 'the greatest survival story ever undertaken'.

    The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition began in late October 1914, when Shackleton left Buenos Aires aiming to be the first to cross Antarctica’s vast and unexplored interior. On the other side of the South Pole, Aeneas Mackintosh left Tasmania for the Ross Sea (with four Australians on board), aiming to lay supplies for Shackleton's ambitious crossing.

    When the two parties became trapped in the ice, a tale of incredible adventure, bravery and resilience began.


    • See stunning photographs by the expedition’s official photographer, Australian Frank Hurley.
    • View traditional dioramas enhanced by the latest in augmented reality.
    • Discover rare and unusual artefacts from other expeditioners including Australian scientist Andrew Keith, as well as actual equipment, clothing and specimens from this incredible episode of Antarctic exploration.
    • Gain insights from modern-day scientist (and Shackleton fellow) Mel Mackenzie as well as renowned adventurer Tim Jarvis, who close to a century later re-enacted parts of Shackleton’s epic survival trek. 
    • Step inside the historic huts of Antarctic explorers Shackleton and Captain Robert Falcon Scott and relive a time of extraordinary polar exploration in our companion exhibition, Still Life: Inside the Antarctic Huts of Scott and Shackleton (2 April - 1 September 2015).

    Ticket Information

    Open daily, 9.30am–5pm, until 28 March 2016

    Buy a Big Ticket (which includes entry to all our exhibitions and vessels) or a Shackleton Ticket online or when you arrive.

    See our Admissions page for full price information and to book your tickets. Our Plan Your Visit page has everything you need to know about a trip to the museum.

    Become a Member and save

    Become a Maritime Museum Member and receive FREE or discounted entry to all our events and exhibitions, as well as many other benefits.

    Discover more online

    • Get an in-depth understanding of Shackleton's heroics with our Digital Story
    • Read more about Shackleton on our blog
    • Preview images from the exhibition in our Photo Gallery by clicking the tab on this page
    • Go for a (virtual) walk in Antarctica Street View Maps by clicking the tab on this page

    Shackleton at our Store

    Shackleton: Death or Glory DVD cover

    This amazing Discovery Channel documentary in which adventurer Tim Jarvis and his companions successfully re-enact Shackleton's historic journey is available at our online store or when you visit the exhibition.

    Shackleton's Epic book cover

    Here in book form is the whole story of Tim Jarvis' successful attempt to follow in Shackleton's footsteps, available at our online store or when you visit the Museum.

    Keep in touch

    Receive our e-newsletters for the latest news including special offers, advance bookings, sneak previews and more.

    Connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for updates and to join the conversation.

    Exhibition sponsors

    Antarctica Flights APT  Antarctic Division

  • Tour Dates

    Tour Dates

    Learn how Anglo-Irish adventurer Sir Ernest Shackleton saved all 28 of the men aboard the doomed ship Endurance, in what Sir Edmund Hillary described as 'the greatest survival story ever undertaken'.

    The touring exhibition is an adaptation of the exhibition currently on display here at the Maritime Museum. It will consist of stunning photographs, augmented realities, audio-visuals and graphic components.

    The exhibition is in development and will be available from June 2016. To make a booking, please email agaffikin@anmm.gov.au

    Exhibition Touring Dates and Venues

    To be confirmed.

    Other touring exhibitions

    We've developed a diverse range of travelling exhibitions that range in scale from highly mobile, cost-effective and ready-to-hang picture shows through to smart, modular-designed and interactive 3D exhibitions developed primarily for family audiences.

    Visit our Touring Exhibitions page to see what else is on tour or how you can make a booking for your venue.

  • Photo Gallery

    Photo Gallery

    Enjoying the augmented reality inside the exhibition.Ship beset by pressure in winter, taken with 20 magnesium flash bulbs, 27 August 1915. Frank Hurley photographer, ANMM CollectionInspecting some of the various objects from the golden age of Antarctic exploration.Endurance heeled to port when ice attacked the ship,  24 October 1915, Frank Hurley photographer, ANMM CollectionA display of birds from Antarctica.Shackleton watching as the men haul  the James Caird over the ice December 1915. Frank Hurley photographer, ANMM collection.The iPads inside the exhibition enhance the displays with augmented reality.The men on Elephant Island farewell Shackleton, Frank Worsley, Tom Crean, Timothy McCarthy, John Vincent and Harry McNish in the James Caird, 24 April 1916. Frank Hurley photographer, ANMM Collection.Objects from the golden age of Antarctic exploration.Ernest Shackleton, left, on Scott's southern sledging party with Edward Wilson and Captain Robert Falcon Scott on the British National Antarctic Expedition in Discovery 1901-04, November 1902. Louis Charles Bernacchi photographer, ANMM collection, Charles Reginald Ford collection.Shackleton's Hut by Jane Ussher.Photo of Antarctica by Jane Ussher.
  • Still Life

    Still Life

    Inside the Antarctic Huts of Scott and Shackleton

    A companion exhibition to Shackleton: Escape from Antarctica
    1 April - 1 September 2015

    Step inside the historic huts of Antarctic explorers Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton to relive a time of extraordinary polar exploration.

    Experience a unique audiovisual work created by New Zealand photographer Jane Ussher and the Antarctic Heritage Trust and become immersed in the landscape, isolation and lives left behind by these heroic early explorers.

    Then through the work of exhibition partner, the Antarctic Heritage Trust, discover what is happening to conserve this heritage on the ice today.

    Jane Ussher

    Jane Ussher is well known and respected for her documentary work as a photographer, and is regarded as one of New Zealand's foremost portrait photographers.

    For 29 years she was the chief photographer at The New Zealand Listener, after which she took up a career as a freelance photographer. In the past few years she has worked extensively for Red Cross and Oxfam, documenting their relief work in the Pacific Islands, as well as photographing for several leading New Zealand magazines.

    Her work has featured in many books, including collections of her own photographs. In 2009 she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to photography, and was also inducted into the Massey University Hall of Fame.

    Antarctic Heritage Trust

    The Antarctic Heritage Trust (New Zealand) are experts in cold-climate heritage conservation. A not-for-profit organisation responsible for the conservation of five historic sites in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica including Ernest Shackleton’s, Robert Falcon Scott’s and Sir Edmund Hillary’s expedition bases through its world-leading Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project.

    In January 2015 the Trust completed a major programme of building conservation work and conserved 18,000 artefacts across three sites.

    The Trust receives support from the New Zealand Government through Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Antarctica New Zealand, who provide logistical support for the project.

    Antarctic Heritage Trust logo
  • Street View Antarctica

    Street View Antarctica

    Transport yourself to Antarctica (without leaving home!) via these two Google Maps. Go for a virtual walk in one of the most remote places on earth.

    Grytviken Whaling Station

    Explore the whaling station on South Georgia Island (as it is today) that Shackleton and his crew fought so hard to reach and from where they were able to organise the rescue of their expedition.

    Scott's Hut

    Frozen in time since 1912, explore this building located on the north shore of Cape Evans on Ross Island in Antarctica. It was erected in 1911 by the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910–1913 (also known as the Terra Nova Expedition) led by Robert Falcon Scott and is a tangible reminder of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.