As Maine temperatures dip to the single digits, many students feel as if they might as well be in the Arctic. Though a true polar expedition of the kind documented in the museum requires months of preparation — followed by months of grueling travel — last Friday’s third annual Arctic Museum reception provided the next best thing.
After making s’mores around an outdoor fire pit and taking photos behind a 400-lb. picture frame carved out of ice, students made their way inside. There, they tried on Inuit snow goggles and elbow-length fur gloves as a student docent looked on and explained the artifacts’ significance. Visitors toured the exhibitions, posed for photos and snacked on hors d’oeuvres before filling the second floor of Hubbard Hall to listen to performances by student a cappella groups BOKA and the Meddiebempsters.
“This year we went all out!” said Silvia Serban, assistant director of Student Activities. “We’re always looking to innovate.” Earlier in the day, professional ice sculptor Jason Bluck from SubZero IceCarvings worked out on the quad to carve a picture frame from several large blocks of ice. In roughly 2.5 hours, using a chainsaw, iron and hand grinder, he whittled the ice into an almost six-foot tall frame in which students could pose.
Serban hoped that the gathering would provide students with “a nice opportunity to get together” and to reunite with friends who had just returned from studying abroad. She also hoped the event would increase students’ awareness of the museum.
Molly MacVeagh ’15 commented that this was her first time at the Arctic Museum. Her favorite part of the exhibition was the biography of an explorer who had conducted an an experiment on beard warmth. “He decided to test whether it was warmer to have a beard or to not have a beard,” she said, “so he just walked around with half a beard for his whole arctic expedition.“