The walrus whiskers, or mystacial vibrissae, are one of their standout features, giving them a jaunty mustached appearance. The vibrissae are highly sensitive and aid the walrus in identifying food from other objects as they forage for clams in sediment on the sea floor. Walrus use the long lateral vibrasse on the side of their face to detect objects and the shorter, more sensitive central ones to identify the object. If it is identified as food (like the clam in this image which has been eaten by a walrus), the walrus excavates and devours it. This technique allows a walrus to find, identify, and consume around six bivalves a minute!

Walrus harpoon-

Walrus are large and powerful animals, and so are normally only preyed on by orcas, polar bears, and humans. Bears prefer to hunt the smaller and weaker walrus cubs and favor surprise attacks rather than risking a head on confrontation with the walrus herd. Orcas sometimes try to take walrus in the water, but even they can be rebuffed. The Inuit have different methods for hunting walrus, but all of them require multiple hunters and specialized tools such as this harpoon.

   This bird spear is another example of the walrus as a source of material for tools. The triple pronged head is made from carved walrus ivory while the shaft is made of driftwood rubbed with red ochre. Wood is a scarce resource in the treeless Arctic tundra and so Inuit craftspeople often used driftwood or an alternate material (such as bone) in its place. Of particular interest to me was the delicate knot work that helps hold the prongs to the shaft.
  • Camera: Nikon D70
  • Aperture: f/3.5
  • Exposure: 1/80th
  • Focal Length: 18mm

This bird spear is another example of the walrus as a source of material for tools. The triple pronged head is made from carved walrus ivory while the shaft is made of driftwood rubbed with red ochre. Wood is a scarce resource in the treeless Arctic tundra and so Inuit craftspeople often used driftwood or an alternate material (such as bone) in its place. Of particular interest to me was the delicate knot work that helps hold the prongs to the shaft.

I’ve always thought baleen baskets were beautiful. The baleen itself is very flexible, has a nice sheen to it, and smells wonderfully of the sea- like saltwater and dried seaweed. The finial is carved from walrus ivory with delicate dots to represent the eyes and whiskers. The Arctic Museum has a large collection of these baskets, thanks to generous donors, and it was a pleasure to sort through them to find the one I liked best.
  • Camera: Nikon D70
  • Aperture: f/4.5
  • Exposure: 1/60th
  • Focal Length: 65mm

I’ve always thought baleen baskets were beautiful. The baleen itself is very flexible, has a nice sheen to it, and smells wonderfully of the sea- like saltwater and dried seaweed. The finial is carved from walrus ivory with delicate dots to represent the eyes and whiskers. The Arctic Museum has a large collection of these baskets, thanks to generous donors, and it was a pleasure to sort through them to find the one I liked best.

   While researching walruses, I came across a photo of a photo of this figure and found out it is called a tupilak. This tupilak, carved from a sperm whale tooth and depicting a walrus/monster hybrid, is from Kulusk in East Greenland. Tupilaks were magical spirits created by a shaman and then sent out to destroy an enemy, but a more powerful shaman could turn them against their creator. The actual charm itself was made from bone, hair, fingernails, and other ingredients with magical properties. This tupilak represents the spirit summoned by the charm rather than a representation of the charm itself.
  • Camera: Nikon D70
  • Aperture: f/4.5
  • Exposure: 1/60th
  • Focal Length: 52mm

While researching walruses, I came across a photo of a photo of this figure and found out it is called a tupilak. This tupilak, carved from a sperm whale tooth and depicting a walrus/monster hybrid, is from Kulusk in East Greenland. Tupilaks were magical spirits created by a shaman and then sent out to destroy an enemy, but a more powerful shaman could turn them against their creator. The actual charm itself was made from bone, hair, fingernails, and other ingredients with magical properties. This tupilak represents the spirit summoned by the charm rather than a representation of the charm itself.

This Inuit shovel was carved from a walrus shoulder blade. The Inuit, who inhabit the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and the US, are well known for their sea faring and hunting skills and a large part of their diet comes from marine animals. Walrus are too powerful to be hunted by one person so Inuit hunters worked in teams. They and their families used most parts of the walrus, including the skin, bones, and ivory, in ingenious ways, as with this shovel.

In honor of Halloween, some Iñupiat masks from our collection.

Originally inspired by halloween masks, two young men from Anaktuvuk Pass created the first simple caribou skin masks for a mid-winter festival in 1951. Community leaders Simon Paneak and Justus Mekiana were inspired to develop this idea into a popular craft item,still being made and sold today. 

In the Collections Room, there are countless rolls of film, awaiting the day when they will be preserved and once again shown to the public! In the meantime, watch for our new film series, coming this fall. 
  • Camera: Nikon D70
  • Aperture: f/3.5
  • Exposure: 1/60th
  • Focal Length: 18mm

In the Collections Room, there are countless rolls of film, awaiting the day when they will be preserved and once again shown to the public! In the meantime, watch for our new film series, coming this fall.