Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Svalbard Museum

by Georgy Petukhov and Noel Piatek

Today the group was pretty exhausted from the extensive reindeer hike the day before. We started a little later so that everyone could catch up on some sleep. During the day we split off into our project groups and were able to walk around town to observe the built environment and to get some interviews from local townspeople and tourists coming in on a cruise ship. We were able to find a plethora of helpful information to write about in our final paper about the changing Arctic. During that free time in the afternoon many people sent postcards back home to friends or relatives. Later we recombined as a large group and headed over to the Svalbard Museum, which is connected to the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS). 

UNIS is a research university focusing on arctic biology, arctic geology, arctic geophysics, and arctic technology. UNIS does not give out degrees but is seen as a supplement to Masters and PhD work. The museum was not big but it tried to cover most of the topics related to Svalbard and Longyearbyen in particular. In the center there was a stuffed polar bear along with other animals displayed. The museum walls were replete with descriptions of various topics such as animal life, Pomors, whaling, mining and geology. Pomors were the Russian whalers that were said to arrive in the 15th century by the Russians. In the Svalbard museum, however, they were said to arrive in the 17th century. This is interesting to note because both Russia and Norway are trying to establish their historical presence which is why these dates may not coincide. They were very interesting but we didn’t have time to read everything so some had to take pictures of these posters in order to read them later. The museum also contained a variety of books in reference to the Arctic, and lo and behold on the shelves was a text written by our very own Dag Avango, Sveagruvan (Svea Mine), which is pictured. There, at the museum souvenir shop, Georgy Petukhov carelessly forgot his precious yellow notebook with all his notes. He had to run back from the local supermarket to the museum that was to be closed in a minute. Fortunately for him our professor Dag Avango noticed the abandoned notebook on a book shelf and picked it up. 

After a short group discussion on an arctic meadow near the museum doors most of the students headed back to the guesthouses. Georgy on the other hand decided to go to the only city church, named Svalbard Church, which turned out to be a very cozy place. He could not resist the temptation to stay there for several hours to read a newspaper before going back to the guesthouses himself. Such were the events of July 15, 2012. 

Georgy Petukhov is a sophomore studying Computer Science Engineering and minoring in Chinese. He is from Moscow, Russia. 

Noel Piatek is a senior studying Integrative Biology with a concentration on Conservation and Ecology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is from Homer Glen, Illinois.


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