A Summer Spent Sifting Through Peary Artifacts on Eagle Island

This summer, two Bowdoin students are, for the first time, inventorying all the contents in the Harpswell home of Arctic explorer Robert Peary. The meticulous work of Tharunkrishna Vemulapalli ’19 and Dana Williams ’18 will culminate in a museum catalog for the historical site.

While the work is deliberate, the setting is dramatic. From every open window of Robert Peary’s bluff-side cottage on Eagle Island, you can hear seabirds crying and the tide pulling in and out over the beach or crashing onto rocks. All around the shingled house — one of just three structures on the 17-acre island — are panoramic views of Casco Bay.

Peary made his fame by reaching North Pole in 1909, an accomplishment that has been disputed. He bought the small almond-shaped island off the end of the Harpswell peninsula in 1881, four years after graduating from Bowdoin, and he built a family home there in 1904. Read the full story at Bowdoin News.

Arctic Museum Participates in #MuseumWeek on Social Media

This week, June 19-25, 2017, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum is participating in #MuseumWeek.

A UNESCO project, #MuseumWeek was the first worldwide cultural event to take place exclusively on social media. #MuseumWeek provides cultural institutions an exciting platform to digitally share their collections and extend their reach to an international audience. This year, museums, galleries, libraries, and archives around the world unite for the cause of gender equality under the week-long theme: A Tribute to Women, with the hashtag #WomenMW. Read more in Bowdoin News.

The Last of the Heath Hens: Special Collections Receives Grant to Preserve 1930s Ornithological Research

Alfred Otto Gross with Heath Hen, Martha’s Vineyard, May 16, 1923

It’s full circle moment for Edward Minot, the interim director of the Bowdoin Scientific Station on Kent Island.

Films documenting ornithological research done in the 1930s by his grandfather, Bowdoin professor of biology Alfred Otto Gross, Kent Island’s first director, will be digitized and preserved, thanks to a grant Bowdoin’s George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives has received from the National Film Preservation Foundation.

Minot discovered the 35 mm films, as well as several reels of 16 mm films, in his mother’s attic.

A biologist and ornithologist like his grandfather, Minot immediately recognized the research potential and fragility of the films.

“After a lifetime of hearing about my grandfather’s work with Heath Hens and his trips with MacMillan, it will be thrilling to see movies of the events for which I’ve had mostly an oral history and a few photographs,” wrote Minot in an email from Kent Island. Read the rest of the story in Bowdoin News.

Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum Celebrates Golden Anniversary (The Forecaster)

Displays at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum put you in the Arctic, or at least in a facsimile of the garb worn by early explorers.

It’s been fifty years since Bowdoin’s Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum first opened its doors, and the College celebrated the milestone June 9, 2017, with a party that invited the public in for a look at current exhibitions and other displays.

“The way we’ve conceived of the whole celebration is looking forward and glancing back,” says Susan Kaplan, the museum’s director, in an article in The Forecaster, adding that more commemorative events will be scheduled throughout the year. “You really can’t understand anything that’s going on in the Arctic if you don’t understand both the environmental and cultural context of what’s going on.” In case you missed it, check out a slideshow of images from the event in Bowdoin News.