Museums collaborate on exhibition about historic Arctic Expedition

January 8, 2010

Museums collaborate on exhibition about
historic Arctic Expedition

Gatineau, Quebec, January 8, 2010 — The Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC) and the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN) are teaming up to develop a travelling exhibition about one of the most compelling sagas of exploration and discovery in Canadian history: the storied Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913–1918. Through a partnership agreement signed today, the national museums have agreed to share their expertise in developing a unique exhibition that will be on display at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in late 2010, before touring other cities in Canada and abroad.

This exhibition comes at a time when there is an increased interest in access to the Arctic and heightened concern about the Arctic environment. The joint exhibition will explore the goals, human drama, and achievements of the Expedition, using a rich variety of artifacts and specimens collected during those five years of research and adventure. It will also feature the essential contributions of Inuit guides and hunters and the Expedition’s impact on northern communities.

“The Canadian Arctic Expedition made an immense, lasting contribution to our understanding of Canada’s Far North and the cultures of its First Peoples,” said Dr. Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “We will work in partnership with the Canadian Museum of Nature to bring this remarkable story to audiences across the country and beyond.”

“The Canadian Museum of Nature is pleased to work with the Canadian Museum of Civilization to co-present the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 19131918 exhibition,” said Joanne DiCosimo, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature. “Our partnership in developing this unique exhibition will underline our shared commitment to increasing public understanding of the human and natural history of the remarkable Canadian Arctic.”

The Canadian Arctic Expedition re-drew the map of northern Canada, defended and enhanced the country’s sovereignty, and greatly expanded understanding of Arctic flora and fauna, and the cultures of the Inuvialuit. The Expedition was also scarred by tragedy, including the loss of 17 men – mainly due to exposure, starvation and disease — and the loss of its principal vessel, which was crushed by the polar ice.

Inspired and led by Manitoba-born Vilhjalmur Stefansson, a renowned and controversial polar explorer, the Expedition was sponsored by the Canadian government. It was divided into two parts. The Northern Party searched for – and found – undiscovered Arctic Islands and carried the Canadian flag into the unexplored north-western High Arctic. It was led by Stefansson. The Southern Party conducted scientific research along the Canadian Arctic mainland coast. It was led by zoologist Dr. R.M. Anderson, later Chief of the Biology Division at the National Museum of Canada (predecessor of both the CMN and the CMC).

The Expedition returned south in 1918 with crates of natural specimens and thousands of artifacts, sket