National Maritime Museum

Claud Wright: Senior civil servant who was also a leading expert in

In the War Office there were a lot of old fossils. But the one who was the real fossil was Claud William Wright. He was not only a senior administrative civil servant, and when transferred to the Ministry of Education the first Permanent Secretary, in effect, to Lord Eccles' Ministry of the Arts under Margaret Thatcher, but also from an early age, a leading geologist, palaeontologist and archaeologist.

North-West Passage: An Arctic Obsession, National Maritime Museum,

Sound sets the scene. When you pass through the doors, you are assailed by the bone-chilling noise of howling winds, and the crepitation of ice. Welcome to an exhibition about the fabled North-West Passage, a source of endless, greed-driven fascination, and often fruitless and tragic endeavour, for centuries. Was it somehow possible to travel by sea from the North Atlantic to the North Pacific, passing through the ice-bound waters of Alaska? Many tried. Many perished. John Cabot, sailing in 1497, believed that it would give him access to the fabled riches of the Far East. There then followed five hundred years of failure. Yes, it was not until 1906 that a Norwegian called Roald Amundsen achieved the near impossible, threading his way through, quite modestly, in a small herring boat.