As part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Polar Archives, the Byrd Polar Research Center has opened an interactive gallery in Thompson Library for students to explore.
The gallery Mysteries In Ice, an exploration in polar research and excursion, aims to help students and visitors understand how these studies affect our understanding of the Earth’s climate.
Lynn Lay, one of several curators for the exhibit and a librarian with the BPRC, said she is happy to be able to bring this experience to students who are interested in exploring the immersive gallery.
“The exhibit has current research that is happening right now at the research center, as well as several artifacts from the polar archives that students can come touch, explore and really be a part of and experience the process,” Lay said.
Lay said students will be able to learn about daily life in harsh climates and some of the achievements of the different explorers involved with the research. There is equipment for visitors to handle and interact with, including a canvas tent, deep-cold winter clothing, survey gear and journals.
Jason Cervenec, the education and outreach coordinator for the BPRC, said that polar expeditions played a lead role in the pop culture of the 1920s and 1930s. As a result, Admiral Richard E. Byrd, a polar explorer and research center’s namesake, created a game for players to learn more about the expeditions and scientists involved, which the curators wanted to share in the new exhibit. Visitors can participate in a life-size version of the board game, “Little America.”
“To feature ‘Little America,’ we collected biographies from our current researchers and the ones from the game to allow visitors to ‘play the game’ and try to figure out, through a series of clues, which explorer they had been given at the start of the exhibit,” Cervenec said. “It’s a lot of fun to add to the already very interactive exhibit.”
One of the gallery’s central items will be an ice core the research center donated for visitors to observe. Stored in a deep-freeze cooler, the core shows collected dirt and air bubbles that help date the ice and give information about the climate during the time the ice formed.
Cervenec said he is very excited to have the core on display, as it is different than a typical ice core.
“It’s a very rare core, and is part of a longer core that the team drilled in 1992 from China when they first opened to research teams from the United States,” he said. “And after some recent research done from the same area, we think that it could be a core of the oldest ice on the planet.”
Along with the gallery, Lay said members of the research center will hold interactive demonstrations on ice flow movement using flubber, a visco-elastic material, as well as show films and documentaries at the Wexner Center for the Arts about the research expeditions throughout the remainder of the semester. The research center will also host open public tours to provide visitors with the full experience of the work that Ohio State does in arctic research.
“It’s a very exciting time for the research center, and we are so excited to be able to create and share these fun exhibits for students,” Cervenec said. “Come take part in it, try on the gear, play the board game, and share in the incredible experiences we’ve had of going into the field and conducting this research.”