Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sneak preview

Steve Quinn, yesterday's blog subject, thought readers might like an advance look at the new AMNH show opening Saturday. He send a photo [above] of the new diorama he designed for the show. Here's a description from the press release:

New York, January 26, 2010—The American Museum of Natural History today announced a major new exhibition, Race to the End of the Earth, which will open May 29 and remain on view through January 2, 2011.

Race to the End of the Earth will recount one of the most stirring tales of Antarctic exploration: the contest to reach the South Pole in 1911-1912. The exhibition will focus on the challenges that the two competing explorers—Norwegian Roald Amundsen and British Royal Navy Captain Robert Falcon Scott—had to face as they undertook their 1,800-mile journeys from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf to the Pole and back. Nutrition, human endurance, equipment, logistics, and Antarctica's extreme weather conditions were among the many challenges that each team had to face, with outcomes that included both triumph and tragedy. The exhibition also reveals the legacy of these early expeditions by linking it with modern science in the Antarctic and the latest research on this unique continent's distant past and its potential future.

PS from Marie: Steve also sent the following note with some fascinating details about the making of the diorama The stars and constellations, however, can't really be seen on the photo. You'll want to head for the museum to see the real thing.

Stebe writes: FYI. All stars are charted for where they should be for the direction viewed for the date, July 20th, 1911. You can see Orion (upside down, of course, on the left at the horizon) and the Southern Cross (in the upper left sky). As it is the deep dark of the Antarctic winter, Aurora australis is bright in the South East sky over the pole. The moon would be located back over your right shoulder (out of view behind you) so it’s light is raking in from the right side into the picture. All 3D Penguins are models cast from a dead specimen we got from SeaworldSanDiego or are flat 2 dimensional silhouettes. The birds (males) are all standing on frozen sea ice incubating their eggs waiting for the females to return from feeding in the open sea. They will wait for two months in the dark. I think they should call this picture “True Love Waits”. The ice barrier (edge of the Ross Ice Shelf) is on the Right and recedes off into the center distance.

My assignment was to recreate the scene that Edward Wilson would have seen when he visited this site to make the first observations of incubating Emperor Penguins and collect some eggs. He was the physician/biologist on Robert Falcon Scott’s 1911 Expedition to reach the South Pole. The poor guy froze to death with Scott!