Snow Laughing Matter: New Arctic Exhibition Comes To The British Museum

By Phil Clarke, Editor of The Handbook website Phil Clarke |
14th January 2020

Think it’s cold outside? You could easily strut down Piccadilly in a bikini* today and you wouldn’t come near to understanding how cold life is in the Arctic. So put your clothes back on and instead start looking forward the Arctic exhibition at the British Museum.

Coming in May the exhibition aims to bring to life just how cold life in the Arctic is. And, the scientific answer they’ve come up with: it’s bloody cold. One of the ways they’ll be presenting this is through around 300 artefacts that bring out the 30,000 years of rich culture from this northernmost outpost of humanity. And despite the biting cold, the exhibition will reveal just how inhabitable this white wilderness has been.

Items on show will include 28,000 year-old mammoth ivory jewellery (um, that is jewellery made from mammoth tusk, not worn by the mammoths, obvs). From modern refitted snow mobiles to reindeer skin snow goggles. The immersive exhibition at the museum’s Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery will celebrate the ingenuity and resilience of Arctic peoples throughout history, having been developed in collaboration with Arctic communities themselves.

Of course, there is a poignant angle to all this. Climate change means that few environments are changing as fast or drastically as for the people of the Arctic. It feels that after 30,000 years of relative stability, we might only be able to enjoy this rich and fascinating culture in museums in future. Organisers Citigroup clearly hope that education and raising awareness will help prevent this.

Arctic Culture and Climate runs between Friday

* Oh and please don’t do this, best case you catch a cold, worst case you spend a night in Bond Street Police Station!

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