Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

Smithsonian Kicks off a Celebration of Arctic People, Culture and Science

The Arctic Spring Festival, May 8-10, 2015, at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. will celebrate the people, cultures and science of the region. Photo: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

The Arctic Spring Festival, May 8-10, 2015, at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. will celebrate the people, cultures and science of the region. Photo: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

This weekend, crowds will flock to 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, will celebrate the people, cultures and science of the region.

The festival marks the United States’ 2015-2017 chairmanship of the Arctic Council. The Arctic Council is a multinational body that coordinates Arctic policy. The Unites States last chaired the council from 1998-2000.

Sponsored by Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center, the family-friendly festival aims to draw attention to this unique and rapidly changing part of the world.

“Fifteen years ago, when the Arctic Council was founded, scientists knew that Arctic ice was melting but no one imagined an ice-free Arctic,” William Fitzhugh, director of the Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center and an anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History, said. “Soon the reduction of Arctic sea ice will turn the Arctic Ocean into a global connector, and that is going to change the entire world.”

On Friday, May 8, the festival will open with a panel of Arctic experts discussing new frontiers in Arctic research and education: “Why the Arctic Matters: Applying a ‘Human Perspective’ to Understanding Arctic Change.”

Festivalgoers can expect a weekend packed with fun and educational activities, including films, interactive displays, panel discussions, musical and dance performances and much more. Visitors to the Arctic Spring Festival can also expect to:

  • Learn about Arctic languages from the Recovering Voices Project
  • Talk with scientists and other experts about Arctic research during the “Expert is In” sessions
  • See how clothing is made out of animal gut skin and fish skin
  • See demonstrations of traditional caribou antler carving by Inuit artists
  • Catch a selection of Arctic-themed films contributed by the Greenland Eyes International Film Festival
  • Hear performances by the Uummannaq Greenland Youth Ensemble of the Children´s Home in Uummannaq.

Click here for a full, day-by-day list of activities the organizers have planned to bring the Arctic to the nation’s capitol. —Alicia Clarke