Race to the End of the Earth Exhibition to Open at AMNH in May

By: Jan. 26, 2010
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The American Museum of Natural History today announced a major new exhibition, Race to the End of the Earth, which will open May 29 and remain on view through 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 hundreds of 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-Garred-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.

Race to the End of the Earth is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (www.amnh.org), in collaboration with the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
The exhibition is curated by Ross MacPhee, curator, Division of Vertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History.

Generous support for Race to the End of the Earth has been provided by the Eileen P. Bernard Exhibition Fund.

American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History is one of the world's preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. Since its founding in 1869, the Museum has advanced its global mission to explore and interpret human cultures, the natural world, and the universe through a wide-reaching program of scientific research, education, and exhibitions. The Museum accomplishes this ambitious goal through its extensive facilities and resources. The institution houses 45 permanent exhibition halls, state-of-the-art research laboratories, one of the largest natural history libraries in the Western Hemisphere, and a Permanent Collection of more than 30 million specimens and cultural artifacts. With a scientific staff of more than 200, the Museum supports research divisions in Anthropology, Paleontology, Invertebrate and Vertebrate Zoology, and the Physical Sciences. In 2006, with the launch of the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the Museum, it became the first American museum with the authority to grant the Ph.D. degree. The Museum shares its treasures and discoveries with approximately four million on-site visitors from around the world each year. AMNH-produced exhibitions and Space Shows can currently be seen in venues on five continents, reaching an audience of millions. In addition, the Museum's website, amnh.org, extends its collections, exhibitions, and educational programs to millions more beyond the Museum's walls.

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