The Arctic – Inhabited Land
For most of us the Arctic is an enigmatic “ice corner” of our planet with numerous shining white icebergs and ice covered seas, endless polar days and nights; it is the land of unlimited domain of the cold and the source of constant challenges to man, the place of self-sacrifices and achievements. It’s here, on the territory of extreme natural, cultural and value contrasts, where the hidden potential of culture, its flexibility and endurance emerge allowing man not only survive in hardly suitable for life environment, but make the Arctic a part of his cultural space.
The exhibition invites visitor to travel across the spaces of the Russian Arctic and to make a glimpse at history and culture of its inhabitants. The choice for exhibition of such ethnographic topics as economic and hunting activities, trade, home, clothes, rites and beliefs, navigation and missionary work is determined by the main objective of exhibition - to show how and by what means people made the Arctic, the territory with extreme environmental conditions for man, their home.
The name “Arctic” (ἄρκτος – she-bear) is not directly related to its largest inhabitant – white bear, but is derived from the Ancient Greek names of constellations of the Ursa Major and the Ursa Minor with unmovable Polaris and territory situated under it in the Northern hemisphere.
Not being a mainland the Arctic embraces vast territory (27 millions square km) of the northern periphery of Eurasia and North America neighboring the North Pole and the entire area of the Arctic Ocean with its islands. The Arctic territory with its richest mineral deposits and resources has been always the center of allure for traders, merchants, travelers and explorers.
Russia always longed the Arctic that had especially attractive power for our country throughout its history from Novgorod merchants and the Pomors to poets and conquerors of the North Pole. The result of this multi-century endeavor was exploration of vast polar territories by Russian travelers, men of service, traders, missionaries, scientists and navigators. Observing, and recording the life of indigenous ethnic groups, living side by side with them they not only introduced new elements in their culture and religion, but also enriched their own with practices of local peoples related to economic activity and life-maintenance system, without which it’s impossible to imagine the present existence of the Russian Arctic’s population.
Ethnographic objects and archeological findings representing the circumpolar cultures alongside photographs and drawings from the Russian Museum of Ethnography collections and multimedia programs will help visitor to know general and unique features of different ethnic and local cultures’ traditions the complex of which shapes the image of the “Arctic house” common to everybody.