Fifty years after Bowdoin first admitted women as students, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum reflects on the women associated with the college’s work in the far north in an exhibit of photographs of Western and Inuit woman. From Josephine Peary, who supported her husband Robert’s work from home and in the Arctic, to Tallman Scholar and honorary degree recipient Sheila Watt-Cloutier L.H.H 2008, women have been, and continue to be, an essential part of Bowdoin’s Northern heritage.
Arctic Museum Exhibits
One hundred years ago, on April 9, 1921, a remarkable new vessel slipped down the ways at the Hodgdon Brothers Boatyard in East Boothbay, Maine. She was the schooner Bowdoin, designed by William Hand for Donald B. MacMillan specifically for sailing in the icy uncharted waters of the Arctic.
Photos by award-winning photographer Rhea Banker. In evocative photos of Greenland dog sleds on summer landscapes, photographer Rhea Banker reflects on this vital form of Inuit transportation, now threatened by the ongoing loss of winter sea ice.
Matthew A. Henson spent years exploring the Arctic with Robert E. Peary and in 1909 he was the only other American to stand with Peary at the North Pole. Henson was excluded from receiving the many honors showered on Peary and the other white members of the expedition. Only near the end of his life did Henson received recognition for his remarkable career as an Arctic explorer.
Inspired by the full-sized Nunatsiavut kayak given to the College in 1891 and on display in the museum gallery for over 50 years, this exhibit explores making and using traditional kayaks from Greenland, Labrador, and beyond. It features over 20 model kayaks and umiaks, as well as associated equipment, historic film and photographs, and the centerpiece of the exhibit, a full size replica of the 1891 Kajak created for this exhibit.
Spring in the Arctic is a magical time of year, bringing both joy and challenges. In this unusual spring, we turn to historic images from our collection to celebrate the beauty of the changing seasons, the hope that comes with the return of the sun.
Women across the north have always created beautiful clothing, footwear, bags, and other objects for their families. In the past they decorated their work with dyed bird and porcupine quills, contrasting colors of hide and fur, and beads carved from stone, bone, ivory, and shell, creating pleasing patterns that also often had important symbolic meaning.
Flowers bloom profusely in the brief summers of the high Arctic, thriving in the 24-hour daylight despite low temperatures, little water, strong winds, and little or no soil. Growing low to the ground, tiny blossoms can be found scattered on otherwise bare ground or growing in dense mats. They bloom almost as soon as the snow begins to melt and continue through the short summer.
On the 100th anniversary of his death, we look at the life of Minik Wallace.
This exhibit presents a selection of Donald B. MacMillan’s gorgeous hand-tinted glass lantern slides, recently digitized with support from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.
Traditional and contemporary music is a vibrant part of Inuit society. Inuit visual artists often portray traditional drummers, singers, and dancers in their works, highlighting the ways such performances and songs are crucial links to the past. Contemporary musicians are reviving traditional music, performing pieces in their original forms. At the same time, they are incorporating elements of older musical styles into modern genres, creating unique contemporary sounds.