Sunday, November 01, 2020

Arctic Culture and Climate at the British Museum

I've loved my visits to the Arctic - Greenland three times and Svalbard once. So you'd think I'd have really enjoyed an exhibition at the British Museum on the subject, but I left feeling sad on three fronts.

Firstly the full title of the exhibition is Arctic Culture and Climate and the last word relates to the impact that Global Warming is having, which is to be melting away an environment and way of life. The polar ice is retreating, as shown by this map:

This map also shows the different cultures and peoples that live within the Arctic Circle. There can be significant differences, particularly between those that focus on sea animals like whales and seals (such as the Inuit in Greenland) and land animals (such as the reindeer herding Sami in north Scandinavia).  These two art works nicely shows some of the differences in their life styles:

There were some gaps I would have liked to see filed. For example, the organisers missed a trick in not showing the amazing Ammassaalik wooden maps (as blogged here) owned by the nearby British Library. And the book shop was a bit gloom and doom and would have benefited from something entertaining like the marvellous Dancing on Ice, reviewed earlier.

I rather enjoyed the story of the building of this Inuksuk which you can watch for yourself on the BM's web site.

It reminded me of the cairns we saw in Scoresby Sound, Greenland:

And that led to the second reason I left this exhibit leaving sad: the ongoing travel restrictions that make it unlikely we'll have a chance to explore again this wonderful landscape for a long time.

The third reason was the imminent lock-down in the UK, which means that the chances to visit museums like this will have to be put on hold again.

Covid and Global Warming, what a combination.

For those interested in these high latitudes I'd recommend a visit - when you can. Until then, we must keep warm indoors and dream.


Joe said...


bonnie said...

I was just talking about my 2012 sailing trip in Estonia and Finland with Joe Rouse. Made me sad about not being able to travel even to visit relatives right here in the states - Frogma's gotten pretty sparse and a trip somewhere always gets me going again. Looking forward to better days.

BTW - I am in a very small FB group called Kayak and Canoe Art. Would you mind if I shared that fantastic kayak print with them? I would share a link to this post, too, I think everyone there would find this interesting. Link to group.

JP said...

Yes, go ahead and share as much as you like - art is one of the ways we can escape the current lock-down. What a year! Too much work + no travel my end and I know you've been having your own troubles too, which I hope improve in 2021 - the vaccine news is promising.

bonnie said...

Thank you!