The Awe of the Arctic: A Visual History

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The New York Public Library unveils 500 years of documentation of one of the earth's most inhospitable regions

For centuries, what lies above the Arctic Circle has been a source of intrigue for those who live below its border. Stories from ancient Greek and Norse mythology gave rise to lively conceptions of ice-free waters and a fabled people who lived at the top of the world. Explorers sought to map the region as early as the 15th century, and there has been a significant expedition to the Arctic every decade since 1800. Expeditions to the Arctic in search of resources and trade routes slowly replaced these legends with more accurate information. For the general public, to whom the Arctic would always carry some degree of mystery, illustrations gave shape to the unknowable.

Drawing on the rich collections of the New York Public Library, The Awe of the Arctic is a survey of how the Arctic has been visually imagined and depicted over the past 500 years. This densely illustrated catalog includes groundbreaking scholarship on this fascinating assembly of books, prints, maps, photographs and artifacts. Essays illuminate specific topics, such as the magic lantern slides from the Peary expedition and contemporary work by Indigenous artists. This book invites us to consider how the history of Arctic exploration has shaped our current understanding of the Polar North and the peoples who call it home.


Author: Elizabeth Cronin

Type: Hardcover

Pages: 224

Dim: 0.79" x 5.51" x 10.12"

Item Number: 9783775748070