Saturday, 16 June 2012

No "naughty penguins" in our museum!


Volunteer helpers at Budleigh Salterton's Fairlynch Museum have acted swiftly to reassure families that as far as they are aware no scenes of depraved penguins are on display in its display about Antarctic explorer Murray Levick and his companions.

Organisers of the 'Survival!' exhibition at Fairlynch Museum admit that photographs taken by Levick are on display, along with a book about the creatures written by the explorer and published in 1914.

"We are a family-friendly museum, and the last thing we would want to do is to shock our visitors by revealing what penguins got up to in their natural environment," said the Museum's press officer Michael Downes.

His statement comes after the revelation by the Natural History Museum that Murray Levick, the doctor and zoologist on Scott's last expedition, deliberately withheld from publication descriptions of sexual shenanigans among the Adélie penguins that the explorer had witnessed and that he judged too shocking for public view.

Among the scenes of "constant acts of depravity" committed by what he described as "hooligan males" were acts of homosexual behaviour, sexual and physical abuse of chicks and even necrophilia. 

The Fairlynch exhbition, called 'Survival!', tells the story of Captain Scott's six-man Northern Party, forced to face the rigours of the Antarctic winter of 1911-12 and shelter in a cramped ice-cave after the ship which was supposed to rescue the group was forced to turn away by pack ice.   

"The whole ordeal faced by Levick and the Northern Party was a horrific experience. The courage of these men been recognised in recently published books about the Terra Nova expedition to coincide with the Scott centenary," says Michael Downes.

'Survival!' is believed to be the first public exhibition devoted to the Northern Party and has on display many of Murray Levick's personal belongings as well as information about the former Budleigh resident's later career. After serving in World War One he went on to a medical career involving the care of wounded war veterans and handicapped children. He later founded the British Schools Exploring Society, now known as BSES Expeditions.

The exhibition is open daily except Saturdays from 2.00 - 4.30 pm until 30 September 2012. Admission is free. For more details see www.devonmuseums.net/fairlynch

Above: Don't look too closely. Adélie Penguins on the ice-foot at Cape Adare in the Antarctic. The photo was taken in 1911 or 1912 by Levick


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