Exhibit examines Arctic frontier, explorers who tried to tame it

Press Staff Writer

        For centuries, the Arctic was the ultimate unexplored frontier.
        Beginning with ancient quests for ultima Thule – the “farthest unknown” – explorers tried to chart the shifting, icy landscape at the top of the world.
        Several expeditions set sail during the 19th century in search for the elusive Northwest Passage, some fated never to return. The Resolute Desk, given to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880, was built from the timbers of just such a ship and is still used in the Oval Office to this day.
        The latest special exhibit at the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums, “Resolute: The Spirit of Arctic Exploration,” examines the Arctic’s strange, treacherous environment and profiles the adventurers who tried to tame it. The exhibit opens to the public Saturday, March 11.
        Hours that day are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Access to the exhibit is included with regular admission, and Hayes Presidential members are admitted for free.
        Current hours for the museum, including this special exhibit, are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday.
        The exhibit will be open through Monday, June 30, 2024. Hours will vary during the year. For updated hours, visit rbhayes.org.
        “In Hayes’s era, Arctic exploration was the final frontier, and people were fascinated by it in much the same way we are fascinated by the latest images from the James Webb Space Telescope or everything going on with Space X,” said Kevin Moore, Hayes Presidential curator of artifacts. “As a melting Arctic becomes a key arena for geopolitics and international trade in the 21st century, I hope that visitors will leave with a greater understanding of how this part of our planet was explored, as well as the people who call it home.”
        In this exhibit, visitors will discover several attempts to explore the sub-zero temperatures and icy terrain of the Arctic. The goal was to discover the fabled Northwest Passage over Canada, which would connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and create a shorter shipping route.
        The Franklin Expedition of 1845 was one of the lost voyages searching for this passage. British Royal Navy officer Sir John Franklin and his group of ships disappeared, and their ships were never recovered.
        While searching for Franklin’s expedition in 1855, the British “HMS Resolute” became stuck in the Arctic ice, and sailors abandoned it. The following year, the ship finally broke free and floated on its own.
        An American whaling captain corralled the “Resolute,” and it was repaired and returned to England. To show the country’s thanks, Queen Victoria had the Resolute Desk created from the ship’s wood for President Hayes. A replica of the Resolute Desk is on display in the Hayes Museum.
        The exhibit will examine these stories and the harrowing accounts. Navigational tools, some of President Hayes’ books on the Arctic and a model of the “GJOA,” the first ship to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage, will be on display.
        In an interactive component, visitors will be able to map their own Arctic exhibition.
        “Resolute” is sponsored by the Randolph J. & Estelle M. Dorn Foundation. Additional funding by Willis & Sons, Inc.
        The Hayes Presidential Library & Museums, America’s first presidential library and the forerunner for the federal presidential library system, is locate at Spiegel Grove at the corner of Hayes and Buckland avenues in Fremont.
        For information, call 419-332-2081, visit rbhayes.org, like HPLM on Facebook at @rbhayespres and follow on Twitter and Instagram at @rbhayespres.


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