National Archives Opens -Polar Exploration- addition to Public Vaults February 19
Press Release · Thursday, February 18, 2010

Washington, DC

Related book signing, films, and Family Day mark Polar exploration and historic snowfall

On Friday, February 19, the National Archives will open a Polar Exploration addition to the Public Vaults permanent exhibition. This major addition to the Public Vaults is based on materials donated to the National Archives including personal papers, photographs, and memorabilia of Polar explorers. These materials reveal the explorers’ contributions, the dangers they faced, and the triumphs they experienced.

Related films, a book signing, and Family Day will welcome this new feature, as did the historic snowfall that blanketed this region one week ago. These events are free and open to the public and will be held at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, which is located on the National Mall at Constitution Ave. between 7th and 9th Streets, NW, and is fully accessible. National Archives Experience Exhibit Winter Hours are 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. daily (through March 14). Spring hours are 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. (March 15-Labor Day).

Related Programs

Wednesday, February 24, noon, William G. McGowan Theater
Captain “Hell Roaring” Mike Healy: From American Slave to Arctic Hero

Dennis Noble and Truman Strobridge will discuss their book, Captain “Hell Roaring” Mike Healy. In the late 1880s, many lives in maritime Alaska rested in the hands of Michael A. Healy. During his years in the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, Healy arrested lawbreakers, helped to deter smuggling, rescued sailors in distress, helped to improve the lives of indigenous populations, prevented the wholesale slaughter of marine wildlife, and explored unknown waters and lands. A book signing will follow the program. The book is available at a discount from the Archives Shop (202-357-5271) before and during the event.

Thursday, February 25, at 7 p.m., William G. McGowan Theater
With Byrd at the South Pole

In 1929, Richard E. Byrd became the first to fly over the South Pole. In 1930, Paramount Pictures released With Byrd at the South Pole, which captured the entire journey. The film won an Academy Award® for Best Cinematography. Guy Guthridge, historian and creator of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctica Artists and Writers program, will introduce this 82-minute film. This program is presented by The Charles Guggenheim Center for the Documentary Film in partnership with the Explorers Club Washington Group.

Saturday, February 27, 11 a.m.–2 p.m., throughout the National Archives Experience
Polar Exploration Family Day

Celebrate the opening of the “Polar Exploration” exhibit in the Public Vaults with hands-on activities designed for children and their families:

  • Participate in an Archival Adventure in the Boeing Learning Center;
  • Play Inuit string games;
  • Learn about the life of “Snowbaby” Marie Peary;
  • Meet a polar explorer reenactor;
  • Read telegrams sent from the North Pole and make your own; and
  • Sketch your view of the North Pole or Antarctica based on the journals of Matthew Henson and Robert Peary.

Saturday, February 27, at 2 p.m., William G. McGowan Theater
Film: March of the Penguins

This beautiful nature documentary follows the annual journey of emperor penguins to their breeding ground in Antarctica. The film focuses on one steadfast pair as they face birth and death, dating and mating, and predators in their fight for survival. Winner of the Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature. Narrated by Morgan Freeman. (2005, 84 minutes) This program is presented by The Charles Guggenheim Center for the Documentary Film.

Polar Exploration Background

The Arctic and Antarctic were considered the last great frontiers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Explorers from various nations, including the United States, mounted expeditions to penetrate the Polar Regions, taking along surveyors, scientists, artists, and even explorers’ relatives. Expeditions lasted for months, if not years, and some explorers faced sickness, hunger, isolation, and at times, death. They marveled at the beauty of the Polar Regions, and some of them even thrived in the harsh conditions. The work undertaken by explorers resulted in scientific advances, increased geographic knowledge, and improved survival techniques and technologies.

To verify the date and times of the programs, the public should call the Public Programs Line at: (202) 357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events online. To request an accommodation (e.g., sign language interpreter) for a public program, e-mail or call 202-357-5000 two weeks prior to the event. To contact the National Archives, please call 1-877-874-7616 or 1-86-NARA-NARA (TDD) 301-837-0482.

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For Press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.


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