While we have the occasional photograph of a cow in our collection, they hardly qualify as Arctic. Instead, I offer you this adorable baby, Ole, with his mother Ane Petersen in the spring of 1923. Ane has with her a tin of Sheffield powdered milk, courtesy of Donald MacMillan, but I don’t believe that it was the source of Ole’s robust good health.
Eight drummers drumming, what more can I say! And…there are more where these come from, too, since drumming is such an important part of Inuit celebrations, festivals, and ceremonies. All of these drummers are part of the Robert and Judith Toll collection of Inuit art.
Come spring, the tundra will be filled with geese-a-laying. Alaskan artists Thomas Aningayou carved this beautiful goose on a nest from whale bone and baleen.
I grew up singing about ‘four calling birds’ but Wikipedia tells me it should be ‘colly birds,’ or blackbirds. So for today, here is one of the coolest birds in the Arctic, the raven. There are more than four of them in this beautiful print by Arnaqu Ashevak, but who’s counting? The print is part of a fantastic new donation of Inuit Art to the museum from Marcia and Robert Ellis.
Hens (much less French hens) are rare in the Arctic too, but Mother Cary’s Chickens (aka storm petrels) do show up there from time to time. Donald MacMillan photographed his friend and colleague, Jot Small, holding one in Labrador in 1912. Not a very useful picture for describing this pelagic bird, so when he lectured MacMillan used this illustration, photographed from a book and hand-tinted for maximum impact.
Turtle doves don’t frequent the Arctic, so instead we bring you dovekies, also known as little auks. These small birds, similar in size to doves, nest by the millions in the north. Inuit in north Greenland capture them to make kiviaq, or fermented little auks. These are a favorite delicacy, suitable for any festive gathering.
Donald MacMillan photographed these birds in Greenland in 1924.
It’s Christmas! And what better place to celebrate it than the Arctic. In honor of the festive season, we bring you The Twelve Days of an Arctic Christmas, featuring images and objects from our collection. And what better place to start than with a [spruce] partridge in a spruce tree.
Donald MacMillan photographed this bird in Labrador, probably in the 1920s.