Opening Ceremony Set for “Death in the Ice” Exhibition Saturday

Mystic Seaport Museum will mark the opening of its newest exhibition, Death in the Ice: The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition, with a public ceremony beginning at 10 a.m., Saturday, December 1.

The event will take place in the River Room in Latitude 41° Restaurant & Tavern, 105 Greenmanville Ave., Mystic, CT. It is free and open to the public. If you are unable to attend in person, it will be livestreamed on YouTube. You can bookmark the livestream here.

Death in the Ice: The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition, explores the fate of the Franklin Expedition, a tragic story of The HMS EREBUS Bell © Parks Canada, Marni Wilson, 2014. The ship’s bell was the first artifact recovered from HMS EREBUS. It is marked with "1845," the year Franklin’s Expedition departed Britain.Arctic exploration and death and one of the most enduring mysteries of maritime history – a mystery that remains unsolved to this day. Setting sail from London on May 19, 1845, Sir John Franklin and his 128-man crew, aboard Erebus and Terror, were the British nation’s biggest hope of finally traversing the Northwest Passage – the much desired, possibly faster, trade route from Europe to Asia.

Franklin and his men were last seen by Europeans in Baffin Bay in July 1845. Two years would pass with nothing heard from the men, prompting the first of a series of expeditions to be sent into the Arctic in an attempt to find them and the reasons why they had not been in touch with the Admiralty or loved ones at home. In all, 36 expeditions would set out in search of the lost ships and their crew.

The exhibition includes more than 200 objects from the collections of the National Maritime Museum in London (NMM) and the Canadian Museum of History (CMH), alongside finds recovered by Parks Canada from Franklin’s ship HMS Erebus. The artifacts from Erebus – the vessel was discovered underwater in 2014 – will be on display for the first time in the United States. The exhibition promises to advance our understanding of the expedition and the fate of Franklin and his men.

The exhibition will emphasize the significant role of Inuit in uncovering the fate of the Franklin Expedition, showcasing Inuit oral histories relating to the European exploration of the Arctic Archipelago. Numerous Inuit artifacts, including some incorporating materials of European origin, which were traded from explorers or retrieved from abandoned ships, will also be on display in the exhibition, highlighting the interactions between the search expeditions and the Inuit.

The exhibition was developed by the Canadian Mu­seum of History (Gatineau, Canada), in partnership with Parks Canada Agency and with the National Maritime Museum (Lon­don, UK), and in collaboration with the Govern­ment of Nunavut and the Inuit Heritage Trust.

In attendance at the public opening will be Steve White, President of Mystic Seaport Museum; Nicholas Bell, Senio Vice President for Curatorial Affairs at Mystic Seaport Museum; Mike Hudner, Mystic Seaport Museum Trustee; members of the Mashantucket Pequot, Mohegan, and Inuit tribes; Jean-Marc Blais, Director General of the Canadian Museum of History; Marc-Andre Bernier, Manager of Underwater Archaeology for Parks Canada; Phyllis Yaffe, Canadian Consul General in New York; Alex Stubbing, Director of Heritage for the Government of Nunavut, and a representative of the Inuit Heritage Trust.

An American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter will be at the ceremony for the hearing impaired.

Death in the Ice will run December 1, 2018-April 28, 2019, in the Collins Gallery of the Thompson Exhibition Building. It is included in museum admission. Mystic Seaport Museum’s winter hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday-Sunday. Visit our website for more information.