Matthew Henson: An Arctic Explorer

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Matthew Alexander Henson, ca. 1910. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/00650163/. You can search their website for additional photos.

A great deal of our collection is related to explorations and discovery, because so many of those took place by way of the oceans and rivers of the world. We have objects related to the big names in exploration and also some who are not as famous. So I was interested a few months ago to hear a news report refer to an explorer I had not heard of: Matthew Henson. I went straight to our database to learn more!

The report I heard discussed the conservation of 20 dioramas built for the American Negro Exposition held in Chicago between July 4 and September 2, 1940. There were originally 33 dioramas but 13 have disappeared. The Legacy Museum at Tuskegee University is using the conservation of the dioramas to help teach Black art students who have preservation experience. This will help build diversity within the conservation field. The dioramas each displayed significant stories in American history that prominently featured Black Americans such as Crispus Attucks, the WWI Harlem Hellfighters, surveyor Benjamin Banneker, and Arctic explorer Matthew Henson.   Read more

Exploring the Deepest Depths

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A model of the Trieste, here presented to The Mariners' Museum Assistant Director Harold S. Sniffen in 1961, is currently on display in The Mariners' Museum Defending the Seas exhibit

On Monday James Cameron, famed Canadian director of the two highest grossing films in history (Avatar and Titanic), made the first privately-funded and second-ever manned dive to the deepest part of the Marianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean.  The dive was the result of a years-long project privately funded by Cameron himself to construct a vessel capable not only of withstanding the tremendous pressure at such depths, but of filming the entire voyage in 3D.

The first manned voyage to the bottom of the Marianas Trench, which measures nearly seven miles deep, was part of a long history of scientific projects during the Cold War.  Project Nekton was the name given to the series of test dives and deep sea dives by the bathyscaphe Trieste, owned by the United States Navy.  On January 23, 1960, Trieste, crewed by Lt. Don Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard, reached the bottom of the Marianas Trench and spent about 20 minutes exploring its unknown depths.   Read more