Talk of the Arctic once conjured up images of stranded sailing vessels and frostbitten explorers. Now it’s more likely to revolve around melting ice and climate troubles. An exhibition at the Naturhistorisches Museum presents various facets of this critical region.
- Remarkably informative
- Full of insight on animal life, geography, and climate issues
- Look for the expressive photos by Brian Adams
- Runs Nov 8, 2023 – Sept 22, 2024
- See also:
A changing polar world
(Arctic video installation in Kabinett 3; press photo © NHM Wien, A. Schumacher)
The exhibition has several themed rooms that address key aspects of the arctic region.
So, for example, I finally gained a proper understanding of such terms as sea ice, permafrost and ice shelves. Various animations and other displays offer a remarkably clear introduction to climate change and its relationship to the arctic: all science and no hyperbole.
The exhibition also uses specimens and models to present the wildlife of different arctic environments, such as the tundra and sea floor: from muskox and polar bears to lemmings, cod and plankton.
(Arctic ocean wildlife in Saal 3; press photo © NHM Wien, A. Schumacher)
I had a slight moment of panic after encountering an oversized sea butterfly (look it up), followed by relief at realising it was merely a model; the real version is just 2mm in size.
Each species also comes with an explanation of how climate change and human activity (hunting, fishing, pollution, etc.) affects its future.
Sadly, the price of all this clear information is the thought of all the havoc currently being wreaked on the Arctic; the long-term consequences are less than promising (to say the least).
Art and history
The exhibition also incorporates some of Austria’s contributions to polar research, beginning with the first major expedition that started everything off.
(History of the Austria-Hungary expedition to the North Pole 1872-1874 in Saal 2; press photo © NHM Wien, A. Schumacher)
The Admiral Tegetthoff set sail just over 150 years ago on the Austrian-Hungarian North Polar Expedition. You can see echoes of that trip in a cluster of islands in the Arctic Ocean named after the emperor of the time: Franz Josef Land.
So enjoy historical documents, paintings and other material, along with a model of the ship.
Austria’s research activities continue today. Indeed, the Austrian Polar Research Institute (APRI) has a permanent research station in Greenland in collaboration with Graz University. APRI experts helped with the exhibition and report on their work in videos.
And art appears through the I AM INUIT series of photos by Brian Adams. These capture both the arctic landscape and the soul of the Alaskan Inuit communities. The photos also contextualise the region as a human habitat too.
Dates, tickets & tips
Explore the Arctic from November 8th, 2023 to September 22nd, 2024. An entrance ticket for the museum includes the special exhibition within.
For more polar wildlife, consider a trip to Vienna’s zoo: Tiergarten Schönbrunn has a huge polar bear complex, for example, where you might see one swimming underwater.
The zoo’s dedicated Polarium contains penguins and seals. Catch feeding time for the latter for a rather fun (and occasionally wet) experience.
How to get there
Just follow the travel tips at the bottom of the main museum page.
Address: Burgring 7, 1010 Vienna