In 1906 Norwegian Roald Amundsen became the first to navigate the Northwest Passage entirely by ship. Amundsen used a small crew of six men and a 45-ton herring boat, the Gjøa, to deftly navigate the narrow channels of the passage. During their stay in the Arctic, Amundsen and his crew learned many survival skills from the Netsilik Inuit, such as the use of dogs to haul sleds (the English were still using sailors to pull sleds at this time) and how to fashion clothes out of skins. Amundsen would go on to become the first person to uncontestably reach both poles.
The items in this case celebrate Amundsen’s voyage, as well as the voyages of Cook, Franklin, and Prince Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi. These items shows what conditions were like for the explorers as they searched for the Northwest Passage or journeyed to the North Pole. While there were certainly moments of beauty, those swiftly gave way to some of the Earth’s harshest conditions, the wonderment at which could still be captured by artistic eyes.