Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day 26: Museums, Frogs, and Parkas?!

by Robert Nystrom and Miriam Zarate

As we continue on our quest to a better understanding of the history of the Arctic region, we continue to investigate the lives and culture of the region's indigenous people. The history of Sweden's indigenous people can provide valuable insight into both the environment of the Arctic and the changes that have occurred over time.

We visited the Nordiska Museet today as a class, primarily to gain more knowledge about the Sami people, or Laplanders as they were once called. The Nordiska Museet, like Skansen, which we visited earlier in our trip, is dedicated to promoting and teaching the cultural history of Sweden. The museum, while still extravagant and immense, was originally intended to be three times its size. The architecture of the museum also succeeds in celebrating and promoting patriotism by adding an authentic Swedish culture feel.

The exhibit that was specifically pertinent to us, as alluded to earlier, was the Sami. The Sami exhibit had an incredible display of authentic artifacts including, boots, knives, coats, hats, tools, a sacred drum, and more. The exhibit included accounts of how these artifacts were gathered. Most of these objects were initially brought back from the North as expedition trophies. However, some indigenous groups are asking that these artifacts be brought back to their place of origin due to issues regarding the ethical means by which some objects were attained, such as the sacred wooden Sieidi. While the exhibit of the Sami people appears to be out of place with other exhibits, the Sami’s heritage and lifestyle are an integral part of Sweden’s cultural make up.

In addition to the Museum, we (17 UIUC students) decided to have our own journey that evening. We went to the Ice Bar located in Stockholm to experience some chills of our own before our journey to the Arctic. The theme of the Ice Bar, "Northernmost Attraction," seemed incredibly fitting to us. The Ice Bar is open year round at the Nordic Hotel and is kept at a chilly -5 degrees Celsius.  The walls, chairs, tables, and even the glasses themselves are made entirely of pure, clear ice. The ice used at the Ice Bar is imported from the Swedish Lapland, which is located in the northernmost part of the country. We were given parkas and gloves to wear in order to keep us warm during our time in the Ice Bar. Our time at this icy attraction made us all even more eager to travel north to Svalbard and experience the Arctic.

Robert Nystrom is a sophomore studying Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois. He is from Villa Park, IL. 

Miriam Zarate is a junior studying Earth, Society, and Environment with a concentration in Science of the Earth System. She is from Bartlett, IL.


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