Tales from the Arctic Museum
After months spent working my way through Donald MacMillan’s vast photographic collections I was happy to take a break. I had been reformatting images and updating data to make nearly 8,000 of his images publicly accessible through the Arctic Museum’s online database for the first time. I finally reached a good stopping point a couple of weeks ago and was looking forward to turning my attention to less familiar collections. I dove into the museum’s backlog of previously scanned, but not yet publicly available photographic collections and discovered a cache of just over 600 color 35mm slides and stereoviews dating mostly from 1956 to 1960, just waiting for their online debut.
On March 11, 2020, during the first week of Spring Break and only days fresh from coming back home, I received the news that many Bowdoin students secretly dreaded: President Clayton Rose announced that the campus would be closing for the remainder of the 2020 Spring semester with a transition to remote learning because of the coronavirus pandemic.
As Arctic researchers, we are very aware of how privileged we are being able to spend extended periods in the north as we conduct fieldwork, visit colleagues, and attend conferences and workshops. We have loved welcoming visitors to our galleries, be they researchers, under graduates, Arctic visitors, school children on a tour, or summer visitors taking advantage of a rainy day to explore the museum.
Noah Nochasak has been making them for ten years. He recently traveled from his hometown of Nain, on the coast of Labrador in northeast Canada, to help construct a replica kayak that will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum.
On an autumn day during the Fall 2018 semester, Bowdoin’s Arctic Museum briefly transformed into El Museo del Ártico, upon the arrival of Professor Barbara Sawhill and eighteen of her first-semester students who were studying the Spanish language. They were seeking an opportunity to venture outside of the classroom and put their new vocabulary into practice. After a brief introduction to the museum, la búsqueda de tesoros Árticos (the search for Arctic treasures) commenced! Read the full story by former Curatorial Intern Katie Donlan.
Indigenous Communities Speak Out on New England Clean Energy Connect (CMP Corridor) and Related Hydroelectric Projects
As responsible and successful stewards of the land for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans, the Indigenous peoples of what is now known as New England and eastern Canada have valuable insights into environmental issues affecting the greater region. For centuries, many of these communities have experienced the theft and desecration of their lands in the interest of natural resource extraction. They now face green colonialism as the world’s wealthiest inhabitants clamor for fossil fuel alternatives and again look to lands used by Indigenous communities as locations for their projects.
These days, when you take a picture with your smart phone (or some digital cameras) it also saves a lot of other information, including when and, unless you have disabled this function, where you take the image. Film cameras, of course, do not have this capability. It is up to the photographer to record this information, and to keep it associated with the physical photograph in all its forms. This is no small task, as anyone who has faced a mountain of undocumented family snapshots can attest.
Recently, I transcribed a journal kept by Captain Robert Bartlett, written during the last voyage of the Karluk, the flagship of Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson’s Canadian Arctic Expedition.
Let's face it, most of us would prefer to experience the Arctic Museum's spectacular collections up close and personal. But sometimes, for all sorts of reasons (who'd have thought a global pandemic would be one of them?) that's just not possible. So, in the meantime, take a look at what we've been adding to our online database.
Hoping for the Best, Training for the Worst: Assistant Curator Mike Quigley Participates in the 2018 Heritage Emergency and Response Training in Washington, DC.
Engaging audiences at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum by Outreach Coordinator Jamey Tanzer.