How do maps and a kayak relate to climate change? In conjunction with the current International Polar Year, a period devoted to polar research, this exhibition considers examples of material culture from the North and South Poles as evidence of human response to the regions where scientists indicate climate change is occurring most rapidly. These objects reveal how humans have attempted to understand the geographically remote and physically extreme Poles. The tools, textiles, and wayfinders produced by humans who inhabit the North Pole and study the South Pole reflect different ways of understanding these places. We believe that the innovative, adaptive, and analytical responses to the Poles manifested in the objects on view serve as models as we seek to better understand and respond to the challenges of our rapidly changing world.
Climate Change at the Poles is organized by Kate Meyer, curatorial assistant, prints & drawings; Jennifer Talbott, assistant to the director; and Angela Watts, assistant collections manager, with contributions from advisors Steve Goddard, senior curator, Jonathan Chester, Extreme Images, and Dan Wildcat, Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU). The project consists of an alliance with the National Science Foundation’s KU-headquartered Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS), cooperation with departments across campus, and collaboration with HINU. In addition, the Spencer has commissioned photographer Terry Evans to travel to Greenland to photograph the coasts and ice sheets—her work will be on view in the Museum’s Asian Gallery II.
Outreach plans include lectures, a film and book series, children’s art classes and other University, community, and regional efforts.