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Shackleton Endurance Exhibition

March 5 - December 31 Free with admission

In anticipation of the opening of the Polk Penguin Conservation Center on April 18, the Detroit Zoo is featuring an exhibition recounting the legendary Antarctic explorer and expedition that provided inspiration for the facility’s design.  “Sir Ernest Shackleton Endurance Expedition 1914-1917: Triumph Against All Odds” will be on display at the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery March 5 through December 31, 2016, and is free with Zoo admission.

Shackleton’s harrowing journey has been called the greatest survival story of all time – an 18-month struggle to lead his 28-man crew to safety after their ship, the Endurance, was crushed in the pack ice of Antarctica’s Weddell Sea.  The exhibition features 150 photographs taken by Frank Hurley – a member of the ship’s crew – as well as haunting video clips and replications of artifacts from the expedition.

“This amazing collection of images, film and artifacts is a testament to the heroism, leadership and human endurance of Sir Ernest Shackleton,” said Ron Kagan, Detroit Zoological Society executive director and CEO.

Shackleton’s legendary expedition and crossing of the Drake Passage inspired many design elements of the Polk Penguin Conservation Center.  The facility’s dramatic exterior resembles a tabular iceberg with a crevasse and waterfall.  A 360-degree, 4-D visitor experience will include arctic blasts, waves and snow.  The penguin center will have a video feature called projection mapping depicting iceberg calving – one of nature’s most dramatic visual spectacles where icebergs split, sending massive cascades of ice crashing into the sea.


  • This exhibition is adapted from The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Adventure originated by The American Museum of Natural History
  • Images by Frank Hurley from Royal Geographical Society and Scott Polar Research Institute; University of Cambridge
  • Currently owned by: Irish Maritime Exhibitions, Ltd. Legendary Antarctic Adventure