Race to the End of the Earth

May 29, 2010 — January 2, 2011

Diorama of over fifteen emperor penguins standing on ice with Northern Lights visible in the sky above.
The Contest for the South Pole

Race to the End of the Earth explored one of the most stirring tales in the annals of Antarctic exploration: the contest to reach the South Pole. This exhibition focused on the challenges that the two leaders—Roald Amundsen on the Norwegian side and Robert Falcon Scott on the British—faced as they undertook their separate 1,800-mile journeys from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf to the South Pole and back.

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Dioramas, Photos, Artifacts and More Provide a Rare Look at the Race to the South Pole

Photographs, paintings, and rare historical artifacts from these expeditions placed visitors in the midst of Antarctic exploration and research at the dawn of the last century. Highlights included clothing and equipment used by both crews during their journeys; life-sized models of portions of their base camps; and a diorama featuring the largest penguin species alive today–the Emperor Penguin.

Hands-on, Interactive Features Show the Struggles of the Journey and the Science of the Coldest Place on Earth

Hands-on activities helped visitors of all ages understand what it would have been like to travel to the coldest place on Earth 100 years ago, as well as what it is like to conduct research there today. Visitors chose a character card featuring a member of one of the expeditionary teams and, while moving through the show, found clues about the character's experiences on the way to the South Pole. With the aid of touch-screen exhibits, visitors explored photographs, drawings, and documents relating to the expeditions and the men who went south with Scott and Amundsen.

The section on modern scientific studies in the Antarctic opened with a stunning video projection showing the rich underwater life that dwells in Antarctic waters. An interactive digital map of Antarctica allowed visitors to scan the land that lies underneath the ice and to visualize ocean currents and weather systems. Visitors also took a fun personality test to imagine how they might fare in an extreme environment over long periods of isolation.

Additional interactive exhibits and hands-on activities revealed what scientists are learning about Antarctica's ancient past and how people manage to live year-round in this forbidding yet fascinating place.

Race to the End of the Earth is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York, in collaboration with Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France, and Royal BC Museum, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Generous support for Race to the End of the Earth has been provided by the Eileen P. Bernard Exhibition Fund, Marshall P. and Rachael Levine, and Drs. Harlan B. and Natasha Levine.

Additional support has been provided by the Government of the United Kingdom and the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ANT 0636639.

British Consulate General NY logo
A National Science Foundation logo with initials NSF inside a circle