Scott-Amundsen: Race to the End of the Earth in New York
The American Museum of Natural History Announces Race to the End of the Earth, a compelling exhibition on Scott, Amundsen expeditions to the South Pole. Exhibition opens on May 29 and remains on view until January 2, 2011.
Race to the End of the Earth will recount one of the most stirring tales of Antarctic exploration: the contest to reach the South Pole in 1911-1912. The exhibition will focus on the challenges that the two competing explorers—Norwegian Roald Amundsen and British Royal Navy Captain Robert Falcon Scott—had to face as they undertook their 1,800-mile journeys from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf to the Pole and back. Nutrition, human endurance, equipment, logistics, and Antarctica’s extreme weather conditions were among the many challenges that each team had to face, with outcomes that included both triumph and tragedy. The exhibition also reveals the legacy of these early expeditions by linking it with modern science in the Antarctic and the latest research on this unique continent’s distant past and its potential future.
“The race to the South Pole by Amundsen and Scott is one of the greatest stories of courage, endurance, and perseverance in expedition history,” said Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History. “The Museum can well identify with Scott and Amundsen’s thirst for adventure and knowledge about the world as it has, since 1887, conducted thousands of field expeditions to the far reaches of the globe, including to Antarctica, to study the natural world and the cultures of humanity. Today, with their own courage and perseverance, our 200 scientists set off on more than 120 research expeditions each year in an active program of cutting-edge field science which continually deepens our understanding of the world around us.”
Photographs, paintings, and rare historical artifacts from these Amundsen and Scott expeditions will place visitors in the midst of Antarctic exploration and research at the dawn of the last century. Highlights include actual items of clothing and tools used by Amundsen and Scott and their crews during their journeys; life-sized models of portions of Amundsen’s and Scott’s base camps; an immersive landscape that provides a dramatic backdrop to the race and transports visitors to the frigid, windswept South Pole; and a diorama featuring the largest of all penguin species alive today, the emperor penguin. Three of Scott’s team members took a dangerous five-week expedition—dubbed “the worst journey in the world” by expedition member Apsley Cherry-Garrard—to recover emperor penguin eggs for scientific study.
Interactives and hands-on activities will help visitors of all ages understand what it would have been like 100 years ago to travel to the coldest place on Earth, as well as what it is like to conduct research there today. Upon entering the exhibition, visitors will be able to choose a character card featuring a Norwegian or British team member and, while moving through the exhibition, find clues about the character’s experience enroute to and at the South Pole. With the aid of a touch screen computer kiosk, visitors can leaf through photographs, drawings, and manuscripts produced by the two teams. A stunning video projection will show rich underwater life surrounding Antarctica taken by videographer Norbert Wu. An interactive computer map of Antarctica will allow visitors to scan what lies underneath the ice and to visualize the ocean currents and weather systems. Visitors will also be able to take a personality test modeled after those used for real expeditions to imagine how they might personally fare in an extreme environment over long periods of isolation.
The exhibition will vividly re-create, through dioramas and period detail, the high points of the race: how Amundsen and Scott prepared for their polar journeys and how they met, or were defeated by, the numerous challenges they faced. Additional interactives and hands-on activities will reveal what scientists are learning about Antarctica’s surprising landscape under the ice and how people manage to live year-round in this forbidding yet fascinating place.