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Dr. Ian Malcolm Godfrey

History Presenter & Guide

Dr. Ian Godfrey is an organic chemist who worked initially as a teacher and lecturer (1979-1987) before joining the Department of Materials Conservation in the Western Australian Museum. 

As Senior Curator and eventually Head of that department, the main focus of Dr Godfrey’s research work was directed towards the analysis and treatment of organic archaeological objects (timber, leather, rope, bone and ivory) excavated from historic shipwrecks.
In addition to diving on many Australian shipwrecks and working with excavated artefacts from these sites, he has also worked with colleagues in Sri Lanka, the United States, Spain and on the iconic Vasa shipwreck in Sweden. This work on shipwreck artefacts, somewhat surprisingly, led to Ian’s involvement in the Antarctic when he became a partner in a project examining the use of the dry Antarctic environment to naturally freeze-dry waterlogged archaeological wood at Davis Station.
This project (1990-93) led to a further project where the freeze-drying technology used at Davis Station was adapted to remove snow and ice from the interior of a small building at the historic Wilkes Station (1994-2003). Subsequently Ian became involved in the conservation of the historic Mawson’s Huts buildings at Cape Denison (2001-2016).

Ian has worked in the Antarctic on 14 occasions, including 7 trips to Cape Denison of which he was the Expedition Leader on 4 occasions. Ian is the lead conservator for the Mawson’s Huts Foundation.

What is your most memorable Antarctic experience?

“It is hard to separate the many wonderful experiences that I have had in the Antarctic. Those that really stick in my mind however were my involvement in the re-roofing of the Main Hut at Cape Denison when the building itself was buried to the apex (2006), a 75 km trip over the sea ice by Argo vehicles to get to Mawson’s Huts in 2013, being beset while on board the Akademik Shokalskiy and having to be rescued by Chinese helicopter and the Aurora Australis crew (2013) and finally being part of the team that removed almost all of the snow and ice from the interior of the Main Hut at Cape Denison (2015/16) revealing the floors and wall for the first time in decades.”