Irvine Gaze collection

Irvine Gaze collectionThe Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) was today very pleased to receive a donation of an extremely significant Polar Medal and Antarctic collection belonging to the late Irvine Owen Gaze (1889 - 1978).

In 1914, Irvine Gaze was one of three Australians to join the Ross Sea Party that was part of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, recognised as the last expedition of the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration.

The Ross Sea Party left Hobart on the SY Aurora on 23 December 1914, and so it is fitting that the donation was presented to TMAG 100 years to the day after Irvine Gaze set sail from Hobart.

However, it was an ill-fated journey: the party ended up being stranded in the Ross Sea for 20 months after the Aurora broke free from its winter moorings.

Despite being stranded with inadequate equipment, the party of ten men completed their challenging task of laying supply depots across the Ross ice-shelf to Mount Hope, hundreds of kilometres inland.

One of only seven survivors of the expedition, Irvine Gaze was awarded the silver Polar Medal with clasp in February 1918.

This important medal, as well as other objects belonging to the expeditioner, adds to TMAG’s existing Antarctic collection, which is recognised as the most comprehensive in Australia.

It also complements a display on this story currently on show in TMAG’s Islands to Ice Antarctic gallery, which features objects belonging to Richard Richards, one of the other two Australians in the Ross Sea Party.

“The museum is extremely grateful to Irvine Gaze’s family for this generous donation which recognises TMAG’s role as the pre-eminent Antarctic collecting institution in Australia, as well as the strength of its numismatics collections”, TMAG Chairman of Trustees Sir Guy Green said.

“At TMAG, Irvine Gaze’s collection will be looked after to the highest museum standards and be available to be enjoyed and studied by future generations.”

It is expected that when possible, the collection will be displayed in the Islands to Ice gallery or numismatics gallery Medals and Money.