South Georgia Museum opened in 1992 in Grytviken, an old whaling station on South Georgia, an island in the polar front of the Southern Atlantic. The Museum is housed in the former Whaling Station Manager’s Villa and is home to an exciting collection of items that tell the story of the cultural heritage and natural history of South Georgia. The Museum’s collections include exhibitions on discovery, sealing, whaling, surveying and expeditions, maritime and military history, natural history and Sir Ernest Shackleton, the 20th Century Antarctic explorer.
For South Georgia Museum, typical museum
conservation efforts-especially maintaining temperature and
humidity at suitable levels-can be difficult to implement because
of the extreme Antarctic climate and remote
location. Fluctuating or unsuitable levels of temperature
and humidity can encourage the deterioration of historic and
vulnerable materials, so it is important for the museum to have a
robust monitoring system in place.
Tinytag View 2
temperature and relative humidity data loggers- portable USB
data loggers with convenient current reading displays-have proved
to be a budget-friendly and reliable solution for the Museum's
long-term environmental monitoring aims. Jayne
Pierce, Curator of South Georgia Museum, had used Tinytags
previously in other museums in the UK, and praises their
versatility. "I think [Tinytags] are great because they
are very simple, they work for a smaller budget and can be easily
moved around the museum and stores to suit the
The Tinytag View 2 data
loggers are placed in two separate display cases that showcase
some highlights of South Georgia Museum's collections, including
items related to Sir Ernest Shackleton (who is
buried in the cemetery at Grytviken) and taxidermy of rare and
significant birds that nest on South Georgia (including a Wandering
Albatross, South Georgia Pipit, Antarctic Prion and a grey-headed
The Tinytags were put in place in February 2020 to begin
monitoring continuously, and early results from
the Tinytags already give a valuable insight into the
challenges of maintaining a museum environment
in a sub-Antarctic climate. In February 2020, a
summer high of +11°C was recorded, while in July the data loggers
captured a chilling winter low of -5°C. Since the Museum staff do
not stay in South Georgia over the cold winter, the Tinytags, which
can be left in place over extended periods thanks to their long
battery life, have enabled the museum environment to be recorded
over winter for the first time.
"Having the data loggers installed this year is very
exciting and will give us more information about the daily and
seasonal changes," says Jayne Pierce.
"The Museum is located under a mountain range, which
blocks the sun in the late afternoon, so it is going to be
interesting to see how the sun and the changing season affect the
overall temperature of the Museum."
Over the next few years, the museum plans to gather data using
Tinytags to gain a fuller picture of the general museum
environment, so that informed decisions can be made to
improve the conservation of the Museum's collections.
Due to the historial heritage and remote location of South
Georgia Museum, plus its inaccessibility, the Museum will not be
able to make any significant changes to the building to improve the
environment. Heating the building, for example, is not possible and
would be unsustainable. However, Jayne anticipates making a number
of smaller changes that could have a big impact on preserving the
condition of the Museum's valuable collections. Using
sealed display cases in the exhibition spaces
would add extra protection for objects on display, while extra
packing for objects in stores would help ensure they are better
insulated against the outside elements.
Pleased with the results from the two Tinytag View 2 data loggers, the
Museum have purchased four more, and are hoping to add more data
loggers in the coming years to expand their monitoring system
across the Museum spaces.
Following the most successful summer season on record, with
visitor numbers reaching 11,000, the Museum team returned home to
the UK in March 2020. Unfortunately, the team were not able to
return to South Georgia in September 2020 due to the COVID-19
pandemic. It is hoped that they will be able to return and welcome
visitors to South Georgia Museum in late 2021, bringing their new
Tinytags with them!
To learn more, visit South
Georgia Museum's website and Instagram.
Images courtesy of South Georgia Museum.