Policy on the Release and Movement of Artefacts 2017

South Georgia has a unique heritage, which includes the remains of the former whaling stations and their historic buildings, wrecks and hulks, sealing artefacts, early expeditions and sites of historic interest. There are important links to polar exploration and science, including Sir Ernest Shackleton.

We recognise the widespread interest in South Georgia’s heritage. Our Strategy 2016- 2020 sets out the Government’s desire to make its heritage more accessible. The South Georgia Museum in Grytviken has an important role in showcasing and communicating South Georgia’s heritage and in enhancing the visitor experience. We will also encourage the return of artefacts previously removed without permission from South Georgia to the museum or GSGSSI. While the Government’s presumption is that South Georgia’s heritage should remain in situ, we recognise the need to bring South Georgia’s heritage to people who will be unable to visit South Georgia in person. There is also interest from some parties in the ex-situ restoration and study of specific heritage items.

The policy on the release of heritage artefacts from SGSSI has been developed by the Government pursuant to the GSGSSI’s 5 year strategy. This policy has undergone a public consultation and GSGSSI has also consulted closely with the Heritage Advisory Panel (HAP) on a number of occasions throughout this process.

Issues raised during the consultation process included:

  • importance of adhering recognised international standards
  • ability of the South Georgia Museum to facilitate the movements of artefacts without unnecessary impediment
  • facilitating ex-situ academic study of artefacts

These points have been addressed and are reflected in the final version.

GSGSSI wishes to thank all who engaged in the consultation process, including the members of the HAP, for their contribution and advice.

The policy document can be downloaded here.