Past Exhibits

Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum & Arctic Studies Center Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum & Arctic Studies Center

Past Exhibits

Four Years in the White North:  Donald B. MacMillan’s Crocker Land Lecture

Four Years in the White North: Donald B. MacMillan’s Crocker Land Lecture

, Arctic Museum main galleries

In 1913, Donald B. MacMillan began an expedition looking for Crocker Land, first sighted by Robert Peary in 1906 in an unexplored Arctic region. Expedition members planned to spend two years studying this region, under the auspices of the American Museum of Natural History. Ice conditions prevented evacuation until the summer of 1917. By then MacMillan had shown that Crocker Land was nothing more than a mirage, and the expedition had collected many natural history specimens and scientific records. MacMillan himself took over 5000 photographs.

Northern Cinema: Early Film of the Far North

Northern Cinema: Early Film of the Far North

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Explorers and expedition leaders such as Donald B. MacMillan and Robert A. Bartlett began using motion picture film early in the twentieth century. By the 1920s film footage from the North was common and very popular in newsreels and in public lectures given across the country. Such films gave American audiences their first good look at life in the Arctic.

“I will only tell what I know”: Them Days, Stories of Early Labrador

“I will only tell what I know”: Them Days, Stories of Early Labrador

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Them Days, a magazine of Labrador history, has been published continuously since 1975, in the process becoming an important archive for oral, written and photographic records of Labrador. In the early 1980s, The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum provided copies of many of MacMillan’s photographs of Labrador to the magazine to be included with articles. In this exhibit we present a selection of these photographs, along with quotes from the articles they accompanied in the magazine. True to the rich history of Labrador, these include stories from Inuit, Innu and Settler families, as well as visiting scientists and missionaries. The generous support of the Friends of Bowdoin College has made this exhibit possible.

Working Through the Ice: The Bowdoin and The Effie M. Morrissey

Working Through the Ice: The Bowdoin and The Effie M. Morrissey

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Sailing ships have braved the difficult waters of the Arctic for centuries, but few have been so successful, or returned so frequently, as the Bowdoin, and the Effie M. Morrissey. Thanks to their skilled captains, Donald B. MacMillan and Robert A. Bartlett, these ships repeatedly navigated uncharted waters from Labrador’s dangerous coast to the ice choked bays of Greenland and Baffin Island. They carried scientists researching the wonders of the Arctic, and supplies and medical aid to remote communities. Now celebrated as National Historic Landmarks, both ships are fondly remembered in the many northern communities they returned to year after year.

Down the Labrador: MacMillan in the Big Land

Down the Labrador: MacMillan in the Big Land

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Explorers and expedition leaders such as Donald B. MacMillan and Robert A. Bartlett began using motion picture film early in the twentieth century. By the 1920s film footage from the North was common and very popular in newsreels and in public lectures given across the country. Such films gave American audiences their first good look at life in the Arctic.

Peary and the Inuit: Perspectives On Interactions

Peary and the Inuit: Perspectives On Interactions

, Arctic Museum main galleries

The photographs in this exhibit come from albums owned by John Bartlett, captain of the vessels Bartlett sailed the Kite to Northwest Greenland in 1895 to bring Robert E. Peary home from the North, where he had been for two years. Peary chose him as captain of the Hope, which he chartered for summer voyages in 1896 and 1897, when he tried to transport large meteorites from Cape York, Greenland to New York. These photographs, taken by an unidentified photographer, document the final years of the 19th Century, as the Inuit of Northwest Greenland were becoming increasingly linked to the wider world.

Facing the Future

Facing the Future

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Facing the Future showcases caribou hide and whalebone masks made by the North Alaskan Inuit group, the Iñupiat. These masks exist at the intersection of traditional and modern Iñupiat culture. They are made exclusively for sale, as “tourist art” but are firmly rooted in traditional Iñupiat culture. They evoke historic and pre-historic traditions in the way they are made, in the materials used to make them, in the expressive faces they portray, and in the symbolic meaning they convey. At the same time, they represent one of the ways the Iñupiat are adapting to the changes brought to them by southerners over the last hundred years.

Greenland Summer

Greenland Summer

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Summer is a special time in Northwest Greenland. The sun shines twenty-four hours a day. Plants and flowers abound. Migratory birds flock to their breeding grounds by the thousands. Icebergs calved from the many glaciers float by, pushed south by ocean currents. It can be a time of bounty for Arctic families, but it is also a time of hard work. This venue for photographic exhibits has been made possible through the generous support of the Association of Bowdoin Friends.

Blossoming Tundra: The Photography of Rutherford Platt

Blossoming Tundra: The Photography of Rutherford Platt

, Hubbard Hall foyer

In 1947 and 1954 botanist and photographer Rutherford Platt sailed north aboard the Schooner Bowdoin to study these remarkable plants. Platt specialized in macrophotography and somehow managed to find space aboard the ship for his specialized lighting and camera setup. With it, he took a series of remarkable close-up photographs to highlight the wonders of these remarkable tiny flowers and illustrate their specialized adaptations.

Glancing Back: Acquisitions from the Museum's First Years

Glancing Back: Acquisitions from the Museum's First Years

, Hubbard Hall foyer

When the Arctic Museum opened in 1967, its collections included items given to the College before the museum was established, as well as objects and photographs donated to the museum by Donald and Miriam MacMillan and the Robert E. Peary family. This exhibit features some of these early acquisitions and looks at how they remain relevant to the museum's mission today.

Melting Away: Arctic Cultural Heritage at Risk

Melting Away: Arctic Cultural Heritage at Risk

, Hubbard Hall foyer

Photographs in this exhibit are contributed by researchers working in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland documenting the effects of rising temperatures in the arctic.

Ice Navigator: Captain Bob Bartlett's Northern Adventures

Ice Navigator: Captain Bob Bartlett's Northern Adventures

, Hubbard Hall foyer

Robert A. Bartlett, a famous Newfoundland ship captain and ice navigator, spent his career plying ice laden Arctic waters. This exhibit will feature photographs from his voyages.

Cold War in a Cold Climate

Cold War in a Cold Climate

, Hubbard Hall foyer

Cold War in a Cold Climate: Greenland’s Ballistic Missile Early Warning System

MacMillan's Last Voyage

MacMillan's Last Voyage

, Hubbard Hall foyer

In 1954, Donald B. MacMillan made his final trip to the Arctic.

Early Inuit Art: Recent Acquisitions

Early Inuit Art: Recent Acquisitions

, Hubbard Hall foyer

This exhibit highlights recent donations of Inuit art that was produced in the 1950s and 1960s.

A Glimmer on the Polar Sea: The Crocker Land Expedition, 1913-1917

A Glimmer on the Polar Sea: The Crocker Land Expedition, 1913-1917

, Arctic Museum main galleries

In the summer of 1913, Donald B. MacMillan and six other men set off on an expedition to conduct research and exploration in the far north. Marking the 100th anniversary of this major expedition, this exhibit highlights the results of their extensive fieldwork, and looks at field studies being conducted by contemporary researchers in the same region.

Faces of Greenland

Faces of Greenland

, Arctic Museum main galleries, Hubbard Hall foyer

This exhibit features ivory and walrus bone carvings created by a group of artists working in the small community of Kangaamiut, Greenland, in the 1930s and 40s

Cape Dorset and Beyond: Inuit Art from the Marcia and Robert Ellis Collection

Cape Dorset and Beyond: Inuit Art from the Marcia and Robert Ellis Collection

, Arctic Museum main galleries

This exhibit reflects the eclectic eye of the collectors, Marcia and Robert Ellis. it includes a wide range of styles, from highly detailed and realistic to nearly abstract, and works by some of the best-known Inuit artists. Most of the pieces are from Cape Dorset (Kinngait) on Baffin Island, but other communities from across Canada are represented as well, as is Anchorage, Alaska.

Northwest of the Known Arctic Lands: MacMillan’s Search for Crocker Land, 1914

Northwest of the Known Arctic Lands: MacMillan’s Search for Crocker Land, 1914

, Arctic Museum main galleries

In the summer 1913 Donald MacMillan and five other men left New York on an expedition to conduct research in the high Arctic. One of their key goals, and the most important one to MacMillan, was to prove or disprove the existence of Crocker Land, a landmass that Robert E. Peary had sighted from Cape Thomas Hubbard in 1906. Tidal data also suggested that there was land in the vicinity. The team spent the fall and early winter of 1913-14 building and settling into their quarters at Etah, Northwest Greenland, and, along with Inughuit, preparing for a major sledge trip to the northwest, to find Crocker Land. In late February 2014, they were ready.

Scrimshaw: Selections from the Peter C. Barnard Collection

Scrimshaw: Selections from the Peter C. Barnard Collection

, Arctic Museum main galleries

A new exhibit highlighting the art of scrimshaw is now open at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, Bowdoin College. “Scrimshaw: Selections from the Peter C. Barnard Collection” can be viewed in the Arctic Museum’s foyer in Hubbard Hall through April 27, 2014.

Off to a Rocky Start: The Crocker Land Expedition, 1913

Off to a Rocky Start: The Crocker Land Expedition, 1913

, Hubbard Hall foyer

In July, 1913, Donald B. MacMillan and six men, members of the Crocker Land Expedition, left New York for the far north. The expedition was sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, with additional support from the American Geographical Society and the University of Illinois. Its primary goal was to confirm the existence of a land that Robert E. Peary had seen to the northwest of the known Arctic islands in 1906, but the team also included scientists prepared to collect a wide variety of data. The expedition had been years in the planning, suffering may setbacks along the way. Most tragically the start of the expedition was delayed by a year when MacMillan’s friend and co-leader, George Borup, died in a boating accident in the spring of 1912. MacMillan persisted, however, and convinced the AMNH to continue their support. Through the next year he worked to raise funds, organize, and staff a two-year expedition. Challenges continued after the departure and there were a the men had to overcome number of problems before they settled in for their first winter in the north.

Peary/Kirkeby: Views of Peary Land

Peary/Kirkeby: Views of Peary Land

, Arctic Museum main galleries

In the spring of 1892. Robert E. Peary and Evind Astrup set out to cross the great Greenland ice cap, to become the first Euro-Americans to visit the northernmost coast of Greenland, now known as Peary Land. This is northernmost land on the planet and few people have had the privilege of visiting it. This exhibit features Peary's first photographs of this stark and beautiful landscape, as well as more recent views.

Community and Tradition in the Modern World: Iñupiat Hunters as Photographed by Bill Hess

Community and Tradition in the Modern World: Iñupiat Hunters as Photographed by Bill Hess

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Bill Hess, a photographer based in Alaska, has documented the lives of Alaska's Native communities for years. The exhibition features activities of contemporary Alaskan hunters originally featured in a magazine featuring people and events in the North Slope Bureau, produced by Hess. Sponsored by the Oak Foundation and the Russell and Janet Doubleday Endowment Fund.

Animal Allies: Inuit Views of the Natural World

Animal Allies: Inuit Views of the Natural World

, Arctic Museum main galleries

This exhibit explores the Inuit worldview, based on mutual respect between humans and animals. Through contemporary Inuit carvings and prints, traditional tools and clothing, and filmed interviews with Inuit men and women visitors learn about the behavior of seals, whales, polar bears, caribou, and muskoxen.

In a State of Becoming: Inuit Art from the Collection of Rabbi Harry Sky

In a State of Becoming: Inuit Art from the Collection of Rabbi Harry Sky

, Arctic Museum main galleries

This exhibition of Rabbi Harry Sky's donated collection of Inuit transformation carvings focuses on the parallels Rabbi Sky sees between his own teachings that people are constantly changing and transforming themselves as they live their lives and Inuit carving of human/animal transformations.

Imagination Takes Shape: Inuit Art from the Robert and Judith Toll Collection

Imagination Takes Shape: Inuit Art from the Robert and Judith Toll Collection

, Arctic Museum main galleries

This exhibition included 86 works carefully selected from a much larger collection donated to the museum by Robert and Judith Toll in 2009. The prints and carvings were made in the past fifty years by artists living in communities across the Canadian Arctic.

Near the Pole with Peary: Harry Whitney in Greenland, 1908-09

Near the Pole with Peary: Harry Whitney in Greenland, 1908-09

, Arctic Museum main galleries

In 1908 adventurer and big-game hunter Harry Whitney traveled to northwestern Greenland as a paying passenger aboard the Erik, which was steaming north carrying supplies for Robert E. Peary’s North Pole Expedition. Whitney had no interest in the Pole, or exploration. He was after big game and planned to spend the summer hunting, returning south with the Erik in the fall. The few weeks he spent in Greenland were not enough, however, and on the spur of the moment he decided to stay the winter, living among the Inughuit and hunting with them until the following summer. He established his base at Anoritok, using a shelter built there by Frederick Cook as he prepared to go to the North Pole in 1908. Whitney was the first American to meet Cook when he returned to Anoritok in the summer of 1909. Whitney took many photographs, and published a book about his adventures, Hunting with the Eskimos, but remained silent on the subject of Cook’s North Pole claims.

The North Pole Controversy: A Joking Matter

The North Pole Controversy: A Joking Matter

, Arctic Museum main galleries

On September 1, 1909, Dr. Frederick A. Cook sent a telegram from Lerwick, Shetland, announcing that he had reached the North Pole in April 1908. One week later, on September 7, Robert E. Peary sent a similar telegram from Indian Harbour, Labrador, announcing that he had been the first to reach the North Pole in April 1909, and that Cook was a liar. These events set off a media frenzy and provided a rich source of material for editorial cartoonists across North America and in Europe. Here we present a series of cartoons from the fall of 1909, illustrating the pointed humor cartoonists brought to the debate.

Chief Engineer George A. Wardwell: A Bucksport Man in the Far North

Chief Engineer George A. Wardwell: A Bucksport Man in the Far North

, Arctic Museum main galleries

George A. Wardwell of Bucksport, Maine was chief engineer of the SS <em>Roosevelt</em>, on Robert E. Peary’s 1905-06 and 1908-09 North Pole expeditions. These expeditions are well known as Peary, and many of the men who accompanied him on his long sledging journeys, published accounts of their experiences. Much less is known of the experiences of men like Wardwell, who spent the winter aboard the Roosevelt as it sat frozen in place for the winter, serving as a base camp. Wardwell, however, kept journals of his time aboard the Roosevelt. The journals, along with his photographs, have recently been made available by his family, allowing us to gain a new perspective on these historic expeditions.

Forging Ahead: SS Roosevelt Encounters the Polar Sea

Forging Ahead: SS Roosevelt Encounters the Polar Sea

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Just over a century ago, the steamship Roosevelt made two landmark Arctic voyages. Robert Peary's North Pole expeditions of 1905-1906 and 1908-1909 relied completely on this "little black ship, solid, sturdy, compact, strong and resistant," as Peary described her.

This Extraordinary Paradise: Living in Northwest Greenland

This Extraordinary Paradise: Living in Northwest Greenland

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Living in Northwest Greenland was a major exhibit centered on life in the most northerly community in the world, drawing upon on the Arctic Museum's rich collection of objects, photographs and films.

Beautiful Utility: A Look at Inuit Crafts

Beautiful Utility: A Look at Inuit Crafts

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Northern people have a long tradition of fashioning practical objects for everyday use and for trade, and more recently for sale. These objects are often skillfully made and elaborately decorated, in traditional or innovative styles. This exhibit looks at a selection of crafts that incorporate the essential everyday skills that men and women alike must master in order to survive in the Arctic.

Northern Mission: Sir Wilfred Grenfell in Labrador

Northern Mission: Sir Wilfred Grenfell in Labrador

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Wilfred Grenfell went to work in northern Newfoundland and Labrador as a medical doctor, but he envisioned his mission much more broadly. He knew that to help people in the remote communities he served he had to address not only their physical health, but also their spiritual, social, and economic circumstances. Undaunted by the task he had set for himself, he created a network of medical stations, schools, and a craft organization. He received many honors for this work, including a knighthood in 1927.

Building the Peary Monument

Building the Peary Monument

, Arctic Museum main galleries

In 1932, Robert A. Bartlett and Marie Ahnighito Peary Stafford, Robert E. Peary’s daughter, joined forces to mount an expedition to Cape York, Greenland to construct a memorial to Peary. As always on Bartlett’s expeditions, photographers documented many aspects of this remarkable work. The following images trace the expedition from its June departure from New York, to the final dedication of the monument in August, 1932. The captions are extracts from accounts of the expedition left by Bartlett, captain of the expedition vessel Effie M. Morrissey and leader of the expedition, Marie Peary Stafford, who was returning to the place of her birth, and Jack Angel, assistant engineer and sometime photographer.

Northern Connections: Postcards from The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum Collection

Northern Connections: Postcards from The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum Collection

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Postcards have been popular with travelers and collectors since the late nineteenth century. This popularity made postcards an ideal medium for promotion, whether it be a town selling itself as a destination for tourists, or a manufacturer advertising new products. Among the postcards in The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum collection are many that drew on the allure of the Arctic and northern exploration to appeal to consumers. The generosity of the Friends of Bowdoin College has made this exhibition possible.

Treasures and Trinkets: Collecting Culture in the North

Treasures and Trinkets: Collecting Culture in the North

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Treasures and Trinkets: Collecting Culture in the North examines the way northern craftspeople responded to the increasing demand for trade items from travelers.

Freezing the Moment: Photographing the Arctic

Freezing the Moment: Photographing the Arctic

, Arctic Museum main galleries

The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum houses a remarkable collection of photographs dating from the earliest days of photography in the Arctic through contemporary times. From this collection, guest curator Aimée Douglas ’05 has selected images that document important aspects of the history of photography in the Arctic. Douglas examines the challenges faced by photographers in the difficult conditions of the north, and the ways photographers used both standard and innovative techniques to bring views of the Arctic to southern audiences. This exhibit is supported by the Friends of Bowdoin College.

Schooner Bowdoin Summers

Schooner Bowdoin Summers

, Arctic Museum main galleries

In the years following World War II, Donald MacMillan continued his long career of Arctic research aboard the schooner Bowdoin. Many Bowdoin College students and other young men accompanied him on these summer expeditions, collecting data and samples for botanists, ornithologists and other researchers. A selection of photographs from those years document the day-to-day activities and adventures the young men experienced during these trips. This exhibit is supported by the Friends of Bowdoin College.

The Cold Front: Greenland and America in World War II

The Cold Front: Greenland and America in World War II

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Greenland was strategically important to the Allies in WWII for a number of reasons. First, a mine at Ivigtut was the only known source of cryolite, a vital catalyst for aluminum production. Second, Greenland was ideally located as a refueling stop for planes flying from North America to Europe in the days before non-stop trans-Atlantic flights. Finally, meteorologists had shown that by monitoring Greenland weather they could more accurately forecast weather for Western Europe. When Denmark, the colonial power in Greenland, fell to the Nazis in the spring of 1940, Britain, Canada, and the United States began working out how to defend Greenland. The generous support of the Friends of Bowdoin College has made this exhibit possible.

In Cod We Trust: Labrador's Early Twentieth Century Cod Fishery

In Cod We Trust: Labrador's Early Twentieth Century Cod Fishery

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Atlantic cod. Gadus morhua live in the cold waters of the northern seas. In the late 1400s Europeans exploring Newfoundland and Labrador noted that large numbers of cod frequented coastal waters, were easy to catch, and wonderful to eat. In the late 1500s hundreds of Basque vessels participated in the cod fishery. By the 1700s dried and salted cod was a staple food throughout Europe, the American colonies, and the Mediterranean.

Ancient Ice, Cool Science: Climate Change in the North

Ancient Ice, Cool Science: Climate Change in the North

, Arctic Museum main galleries

Opening in the fall of 2001, Ancient Ice, Cool Science: Climate Change in the North examined contemporary research on climate change in the Arctic. Using case studies drawn from current research, the exhibit explored how scientists study past climate change, how Arctic climate has changed in the past, and how people have adapted to changing conditions.