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Arctic Spring Festival to Celebrate Region’s Peoples, Culture, and Science, May 8-10

by Colleen Popson -- May 1, 2015
Photo of Q?rius educator Colleen Popson

Colleen Popson is an educator at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, developing and facilitating activities and programs for Museum visitors...

Flowers bloom on a hill overlooking the settlement of Qaarsut, Greenland. Photo by Wilfred Richard.
Flowers bloom on a hill overlooking the settlement of Qaarsut, Greenland. Photo by Wilfred Richard.

“Fifteen years ago, scientists knew that Arctic ice was melting but no one imagined an ice-free Arctic,” says William Fitzhugh, director of the Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center (ASC) and an anthropologist specializing in circumpolar archaeology, ethnology, and environmental studies. “Soon the reduction of Arctic sea ice will turn the Arctic Ocean into a global connector, and that is going to change the entire world."

When sea ice melts to the extent it has in the Arctic, the local and global ripple effects are tremendous. Animal migration patterns shift and warmer habitats invite new organisms into places they never lived in before, all upsetting fragile ecosystems. Coastal communities experience flooding and coastal erosion. Many people in the Arctic depend on certain types of animals — caribou, whale, walrus, seal — for food and for shaping their cultural traditions. Their ability to hunt these animals has been challenged, as seasonal sea ice conditions they have learned so well are becoming less predictable each year. Meanwhile, the opening up of areas previously frozen over has invited new political and economic questions about trade routes and ownership of resources by different countries.

To raise awareness about all these issues, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is hosting Arctic Spring, a festival to celebrate the cultures and science of the Arctic. Activities, performances, films, and games will occur throughout the museum over a three-day period. Artists, scientists, and cultural experts will invite visitors to explore what is known and still needs to be known about the Arctic, its lands, ocean, animals, cultures, and peoples. Many of the events will be in Q?rius, The Coralyn W. Whitney Science Education Center.

A selection of activities includes:

  • Open play of Never Alone, a stunning platformer video game developed with the Inupiat community in Alaska, Saturday 10 am-1 pm
  • Uummannaq Greenland Youth Ensemble will sing and dance, various times
  • Exploration station on languages of the Arctic: Friday 2-5 pm, Saturday 10-4 pm
  • Games and puzzles based on scientific work in the Arctic. Friday 2-5 pm, Saturday 10-4 pm
  • Art demonstrations and hands-on studio: Creating with mammal intestines and fish skin, telling stories on cloth. Friday 2-5 pm, Saturday 10–4 pm
  • Arctic Race GameLab: Play and help make a brand new board game. Saturday 2-4 pm. Register
  • Greenland Eyes International Film Festival: Sunday 12-6 pm. Register
  • Ice Cycle: A workshop presentation by choreographer Jody Sperling, her company Time Lapse Dance, and composer Matthew Burtner. Saturday 6:30 pm. Register

The event coincides with the launch of the United States’ 2015-2017 chairmanship of the Arctic Council, the international governmental body coordinating Arctic policy.  

Join us to learn more about this important region and how changes in the Arctic will affect the entire world. See the entire Schedule of Events.

Categories: Q?rius News
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