The libraries, with their comprehensive collections of Arctic material and their centuries-old humanist tradition of mediating documentation, sharing knowledge and reflection are the obvious platform for disseminating these conversations to the public at large. The Arctic Imagination project also involveds a joint presentation of polar highlights from the archives of the five major libraries: The Royal Library in Denmark, The New York Public Library, The National Library of Sweden, The National Library of Norway and the Central Library of Greenland. Maps, photograhps, film, letters and diaries from centuries back, telling the story of the fascination with the both attractiv and fatal arctic region.
Travelling Towards Tragedy
Jørgen Brønlund’s diary (1907) from the Danmark Expedition (1906-1908).
The death of Jørgen Brønlund
Brønlund (1877-1907) was a Greenlandic polar explorer, sled driver, and interpreter who participated in the 1902-1904 Danish Literary Greenland Expedition and the 1906-1908 Danish Expedition. This is the final entry of the diary. Knowing he had no chance of survival, the last survivor of Sled Team 1, Brønlund wrote his final words: "I arrived here in fading moonlight, and could not go on because of frostbite in my feet and darkness. The other's bodies are in the middle of the fjord in front of a glacier (about 18 km) ... Hagen died November 15 and Mylius about 10 days later." The diary and the expedition's maps were found four months later by his body in the cave where he took shelter.
Gerardus Mercator’s map of the North Pole (1595) from Atlas Sive Cosmographicae Meditationes De Fabrica Et Fabricati Figura.
Mercator’s North Pole whirlpool
Mercator (1512-1594) was a Flemish cartographer who invented a new way of projecting maps – a method later called the Mercator projection. He was also the first to name a collection of maps ‘atlas’. This is a remarkably early map that shows the Arctic split into four parts by channels that come together in a giant whirlpool with the magnetic North Pole in the center.
Tales of Heroes
A photograph from the 1906-1908 Danmark Expedition.
Breathtaking photos from a fatal expedition
Every member of the Danmark Expedition (1906-1908) was given a camera to document the Arctic landscape, the camps, and their fellow travellers. This is why we today are in possession of breathtaking and significant pictures from this ambitious journey. There are more than 2500 photographs from the expedition alone in the photographic collection of The Royal Danish Library, which comprises of more than 17 million items in total.
Through the Looking Glass
Handwritten manuscript for the fairytale At the Uttermost Parts of the Sea by Hans Christian Andersen (1854).
Andersen’s fairy tale Arctic
Andersen (1805-1875) was a Danish author – world-renowned for his fairy tales. Andersen was very fond of travelling, but he never travelled to the Arctic. However this short text is inspired by the polar explores and opens at the very heart of Arctic; the North Pole: “A couple of large ships were sent up toward the North Pole, to discover the boundaries of land and sea and how far it would be possible for the human race to penetrate in that direction.” (translation by Jean Hersholt)