Looking into the Past and Future of the Arctic

Two exhibitions are on show in the Maritime Museum in Amsterdam, each give their view on the North Pole. The Arctic Scramble exhibition takes a look at 400 years of Dutch expeditions to the North Pole, with Willem Barentsz leading the way in 1596. Photojournalist and filmmaker Kadir van Lohuizen gives us a wake-up call with his project Rising Tide, with beautiful but alarming images he shows us the consequences of climate crisis around the world and the impact on people that are directly affected by the rising water.

Overview ‘Arctic Scramble’.

Maritime Museum Amsterdam

Before the Arctic region was explored it was a mysterious and mythical place. The Arctic Scramble starts with a selection of the earliest maps of the Arctic, one of them drawn by Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator.

Map with the North Pole in the centre, ‘Septentrionalium Terrarum descriptio’, Gerardus Mercator, 1596.

Maritime Museum Amsterdam

Detail of the map from Gerardus Mercator, 1596.

In the centre of the map by Mercator stands a massive rock, *Rupus nigra er Altissima* (Black, Very high Cliff), like the black monolith in Stanley Kubricks *2001: A Space Odyssey*. Curiously Mercator went against the wider accepted assumption that the centre of the pole was magnetic, he placed this magnetic centre more to the Northwest Passage.

Eerste Stvck der Aerdryks-beschryving’, representing an allegory of the Arctic. From the ‘Atlas Maior’, published by Joan Blaeu, 1664.

Maritime Museum Amsterdam
Also the illustration in the *Atlas Maior* from Joan Blaeu shows the Arctic as a cold and inhospitable place. A female cannibal is chewing on a bone while two trappers are on the hunt for fur. Around 1600, the Dutch made several attempts to cross the Arctic in order find a shorter route to Asia. One of the earliest expeditions, led by Willem Barentsz, stranded on Novaya Zemlya when a ship got stuck in the ice and the crew was forced to spend a cruesome winter in *Het Behouden Huys*, a lodge they built. In 1871 Norwegian seal hunter Eling Carlsen discovered the remains of Het Behouden Huys. Thanks to these relics, the story of Willem Barentz and his crew became famous, the suffering became tangible, materialized. By the early nineteenth century the Arctic was still largely unexplored, but the findings at *Het Behouden Huys *reignited the interest of the Dutch for the region and new expeditions were undertaken.

The ‘Varna’ stuck in the ice, 1883.

Henri Ekema
In 1882 the Dutch expedition departs for Western Siberia on steamship the Varna. Members of the expedition conduct scientific research in various fields during this journey. When the Varna becomes trapped in the pack ice, the crew is forced to spend the winter on the ice. When the ship sinks in the spring of 1883, the crew decides to attempt the journey back over the ice on foot. After walking across the perilous ice for three weeks, they are rescued by passing ships. Henri Ekama, was the astronomer aboard and also the official photographer of the expedition. After his death, the negatives of this unique and nearly forgotten expedition and his polar trousers, canvas boots, snow goggles, and walking stick are donated to National Maritime Museum in 1937. These objects and never-before published photographs are displayed for the first time in history at National Maritime Museum.

Overview ‘Arctic Scramble’.

Maritime Museum Amsterdam

Drawings by Gerrit Westermeng, a fisherman on the Schooner Willem Barentsz during an expedition in 1880.

Maritime Museum Amsterdam
The *Arctic Scramble* closes with a film by Kadir van Lohuizen and Yuri Kozyrev in which they show the current situation. The opening up of the Northeast Passage to Asia gives rise to increased military and economic interest in the region. The exploitation of natural resources such as oil, gas, minerals, and precious metals ensures that the major powers compete with each other for the right to exploit the riches of the Arctic. This economic competition is paired with the militarization of the region to decide who the Arctic belongs to, with little consideration of the impact of these developments on the original inhabitants of the region. This presentation forms a direct link to adjoining exhibition the *Rising Tide*.

Overview ‘Rising Tide’ exhibition, Maritime Museum Amsterdam, 2019.

©Kadir van Lohuizen / NOOR

Tarawa Island, ‘Rising Tide’ exhibition, Maritime Museum Amsterdam, 2019.

©Kadir van Lohuizen / NOOR
In the *Rising Tide* Kadir van Lohuizen shows his disturbing images of how the world is undergoing the climate change. Water is rising, ice is melting, forests are burning but nevertheless people try to continue their lives as well as possible. The exhibition shows the consequences of climate change in images that become even more poignant once you know the underlying stories.

Both exhibitions are on view till May 10, 2020.
Het Scheepvaartmuseum
Kattenburgerplein 1
1018 KK Amsterdam