Ed. note: Field Notes frequent contributor Alicia Clarke checked out the Arctic Spring Festival last weekend and offered this snapshot of the event.
Crowds filled the halls of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. to learn about all things Arctic. The Arctic Spring Festival, May 8-10, 2015, was held to celebrate the people, cultures and science of the region. The festival marks the United States’ 2015-2017 chairmanship of the Arctic Council.
The Arctic is the fastest changing climate system on Earth. Many of the exhibits at the museum illustrated the dramatic change in sea ice over the past several decades.
Visitors could explore the diversity of marine life found in the Artic Ocean in the museum’s Sant Ocean Hall.
Experts and volunteers from the Smithsonian and other research organizations, including the National Science Foundation, introduced festivalgoers to some of the Arctic’s most charismatic marine creatures, including the narwhal and the North Atlantic right whale.
The Arctic Ocean’s charismatic mega fauna didn’t get all the attention. From krill to whelks, like the fat Neptune, museum exhibits highlighted the ecological importance of some of the Arctic Ocean’s smaller inhabitants.
Traditional clothing made from animal skins were also on display. The hat (left) is made of ring seal and sea otter fur. Sea otter fur is the densest fur of any animal, which has made it a favorite of traditional craftsmen and craftswomen in the Arctic for centuries. The gloves (right) are made of beaver, wolf and moose pelts.
Just down the stairs from Sant Ocean Hall, visitors to Q?rius, an interactive series of exhibits, learned about the different bear species that roam the Arctic.
These objects on display in Q?rium are from East Greenland. They were collected by a U.S. Airman working in Greenland during World War II. They are crafted from narwhal tusks and were made by locals specifically for tourists and other visitors.
Festivalgoers also had the opportunity to try their hands at quilting using prints unique to the Canadian Arctic.
Residents of the Arctic need a good pair of shoes. Here, a craftsman shows visitors how to make traditional footwear from treated fish skin.
The halls of the Smithsonian were filled with dozens of Arctic experts, including photographer Wilfred E. Richard (pictured here). Richard was at the festival to discuss Maine to Greenland, a book he co-authored with anthropologist William W. Fitzhugh.