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"Race to the End of the Earth"

Visit wild, rugged Antarctica-on the Upper West Side.

  • Robert F. Scott and his team pull a sled

  • Roald Amundsen on skis

  • Ancient reptile: This fossil specimen was found in 240-million-year-old sediment along an Antarctic glacier.

  • Fram cup: On Amundsen's ship (the Fram), men of every rank ate and drank together, using enamel dishware.

  • Chronometer: Amundsen and his crew used nine of these timepieces to determine their exact locations.

  • Binoculars: Look closely at the face plate to see an engraved list of Amundsen's accomplishments.

  • Robert F. Scott and his team

  • Robert F. Scott in his hut

  • Robert F. Scott on skis

  • Roald Amundsen's gun

  • Antarctic flag

  • Roald Amundsen

Robert F. Scott and his team pull a sled

Time Out Ratings

<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5

Temperatures in the city may be rising, but at the American Museum of Natural History, curators are obsessing over frigid climates. The museum's new exhibition, "Race to the End of the Earth," which opens May 29, chronicles the compelling story of two competing 1911--12 south pole expeditions: those of Norwegian Roald Amundsen and British Royal Navy Captain Robert Falcon Scott.

The exhibit not only covers the 1,800-mile journeys and the struggles of the two teams—one of which succeeded while the other perished—but also provides fascinating glimpses of Antarctica then and now.

Museumgoers will first pass through an entry surrounded by slabs of faux ice designed to resemble a tight crevasse. Filled with the sounds of ice creaking and wind blowing, the vestibule will put visitors into "the proper Antarctic spirit," says curator Ross D. E. MacPhee. Then comes a quick polar recap: A short film narrates the story of the two teams as they begin their icy excursions, and an interactive table map of Antarctica with popup windows gives basic facts about the continent's geography and wildlife.

Each youngster is encouraged to track the progress of a member of one of the teams by carrying a "character card," and following that person's narrative throughout the exhibit. "We can't avoid the storyline. People do die," MacPhee warns. "But it's not going to be the emphasis." Kids will examine the explorers' clothing and tools, as well as replicas of their base camps that point to why one group fared better than the other (hint: one depended on dogs, the other on...ponies). The exhibit will demonstrate that scientific discovery hasn't always relied upon technology. As MacPhee notes, "Scott and Amundsen accomplished incredible work with the kinds of tools and instruments that we would all laugh at today because they are so unsophisticated. But they did amazing work for the time."

"Race to the End of the Earth" is on view May 29--Jan 2, 2011 at the American Museum of Natural History.

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