'To the Ends of the Earth'

Robert W. Karrow, Jr.

lave for some of the highest mountain peaks, no part of the Earth’s surface is as inaccessible and inhospitable as the polar regions. Greek geographers theorized that the cold there would make life impossible, and when sailors actually ranged far to the north and south, the snow and icebergs that greeted them were anything but inviting. But the irrepressible urge to explore led them on.

"To the Ends of the Earth," an exhibition, which recently closed at the Newberry Library, told explorers’ stories through books, maps, and works of art that recorded their journeys. One gallery was devoted to the Arctic; the other to the Antarctic. In each, the story was presented chronologically, from the first tentative probings through later elaborate expeditions, to the ultimate assaults on the poles themselves. This exhibition and "The Endurance," an exhibition at the Field Museum on Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic explorations, provided a rich opportunity to understand the courage and tenacity involved in all polar expeditions.

The foundation of the Newberry exhibit was the collection donated by Newberry trustee and Caxtonian Gerald F. Fitzgerald in 1996. (See the Caxtonian, November 1998, for an article by Gerald Fitzgerald on the development of his collection.) Additional materials were drawn from the Newberry’s Ayer, Bonaparte, and general collections. In addition to the gallery guide, a full catalog of the Fitzgerald Collection is available in the Newberry bookshop. v

Editor’s Note: Caxtonian and Councilor Robert W. Karrow, Jr. is Curator of Special Collections and Curator of Maps, Roger & Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections, Newberry Library. Readers may consult, for further information, the following email address: KarrowR@newberry.org and web site: http://www.newberry.org.

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