Time to Dash to the Arctic Museum, North Pole Exhibition Ending Soon

Story posted July 14, 2010

Have you been meaning to get over to the Arctic Museum to see the American flag that Robert E. Peary flew at the North Pole, or to listen to historic recordings of rivals Frederick Cook and Peary each describe being the first person to reach the top of the world?

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American flag sewn by Josephine Peary, ca. 1898. Photo by Mark Hensley. Courtesy of the National Geographic Society Museum.

Plan that visit for this summer, because after a successful run of more than two years, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum exhibit Northward Over the Great Ice: Robert E. Peary and the Quest for the North Pole is closing. The last day to see the exhibit is Sunday, September 5, 2010.

Northward opened in April 2008 as the museum began celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Peary's North Pole expedition.

Peary and his team sailed from New York in the summer of 1908, aiming to reach the North Pole in the spring of 1909.

On their return the following September Peary announced that he had been successful, and that on April 6, 1909 he, Matthew Henson, Ootah, Egingwah, Sigloo and Ooqueah had stood at the top of the world.

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Ootah, Egingwah, Sigloo and Ooqueah, Cape Sheridan, Ellesmere Island, 1909. Photo by Matthew Henson. Gift of Donald and Miriam MacMillan.

The exhibit introduces visitors to the many people who supported Peary and who are rarely acknowledged.

These include Josephine Diebitsch Peary, who sewed the American flag he carried with him, on loan to the museum from the National Geographic Society.

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Matthew Henson trading card, ca. 1910. Albert Operti, Hassan Tobacco Co. Museum Purchase.

Also featured is Matthew Henson, Peary's African-American assistant, and one of the most important members of the expedition.

The exhibit includes a rare television interview with Henson, recorded in 1951 when he was 85 years old.

The skills of the Inughuit men and women who worked for Peary are evident in exhibits of Inughuit technology and clothing adopted by Peary and his men.

Other highlights include a scale model of the SS Roosevelt, the vessel that carried Peary's crew far above the Arctic Circle and vintage film footage taken by Donald B. MacMillan on later trips to Greenland in the 1920s.

Look for an exciting new exhibit, Imagination Takes Shape: Canadian Inuit Art from the Robert and Judith Toll Collection, opening at the museum in mid-November 2010.

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