Imax Crevasse. Photo by Joan Myers.


Archived exhibitions are no longer available for booking but are maintained as a virtual record of past Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) programs.

Antarctica is intimidating, beautiful, and endlessly fascinating. Although the continent is the size of the United States and Mexico combined, no native population has ever survived in its harsh environment. Whaling and sealing led to small temporary settlements on neighboring islands, but the exploration of the continent itself is barely a century old.

Award-winning photographer Joan Myers, recipient of an Antarctic Artists and Writers Program grant from the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs, spent four months photographing scientific study and daily life at McMurdo Station, one of several American scientific research stations built in the 1950s and still active today. Working in below-freezing temperatures with wind chills as low as -60º F, she also made trips to the interior by plane, helicopter, and snowmobile.

Wondrous Cold: An Antarctic Journey, an exhibition of 50 spectacular color and black-and-white digitally printed photographs, juxtaposes large panoramas of Antarctica’s beauty and desolation with scenes of wildlife, people, and the abandoned historic huts of early explorers. Smaller images document the scientists who conduct research at McMurdo and the support staff who keep the station functioning.

Organized into sections dealing with the history of polar exploration, life in the cold, scientific research, and the importance of Antarctica, the exhibition also contains introductory information and a map of the continent. Panels and labels illuminating life and work in Antarctica are supplemented by Myers’ compelling personal observations of what she describes as the world’s “ most hostile continent.”

This exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of Quark Expeditions.

The Wondrous Cold show was quite possibly the most
successful exhibit we have shown in the community.
The topic, supporting educational materials, and general
excellence of the presentation helped us attract a wonder-
ful viewing audience, as well as inspiring the creation of a
broad array of associated educational programming. Thank
you for the wonderful contribution to our community!
- Teton County Library, WY

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Exhibition specifications


50 framed color and black-and-white photographs, text panels, labels


Companion book, poster, educational and promotional resources

Participation Fee

$3,500 for 10-week booking period

Running Feet

250 running feet (75 running meters)



1,310 lbs. (594 kg)
Science & Natural History



Outgoing; host museum arranges outgoing shipping and pays carrier directly

SITES Contacts

Ed Liskey, 202.633.3142 (Scheduling)
Jennifer Bine, 202.633.3106 (Content)

Toured Through

May 2010

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Tour itinerary

Dates   Host Institution Status
5/20/06 9/4/06 National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC Booked
9/23/06 12/12/06 Miami Museum of Science, Miami, FL Booked
12/23/06 3/4/07 Teton County Library, Jackson, WY Booked
3/24/07 9/2/07 Yager Museum of Art & Culture, Oneonta, NY Booked
9/22/07 12/2/07 Georgia Highlands College, Rome, GA Booked
12/22/07 3/2/08 Museum of the Gulf Coast, Port Arthur, TX Booked
3/22/08 6/1/08 Springfield Museums, Springfield, MA Booked
6/21/08 8/31/08 Museum of History and Art, Ontario, Ontario, CA Booked
9/20/08 11/30/08 Rolling Hills Wildlife Museum, Salina, KS Booked
3/21/09 5/31/09 Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL Booked
6/20/09 8/30/09 Spartanburg County Public Library, Spartanburg, SC Booked
9/19/09 11/29/09 Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Seattle, WA Booked
1/23/10 2/28/10 Lore Degenstein Gallery, Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA Booked
3/20/10 5/31/10 The Wildlife Experience, Parker, CO Booked

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Related publications

Wondrous Cold: An Antarctic Journey by Joan Myers
Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in association with Smithsonian Books, 2006. Hard Back, $35.00

Intrigued by a part of the planet vividly described in the journals of Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton, award-winning photographer Joan Myers set out to see for herself why people are drawn to such an inhospitable place. Over the course of several visits, she traversed the continent by foot, plane, helicopter, snowmobile, and Coast Guard icebreaker.

Poster also available!

Wondrous Cold book cover


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Press Release


Traveling Smithsonian Photography Exhibit on Antarctica to Premiere in Washington, D.C.

Media only: Jennifer Schommer (202) 633-3121,
Public only: (202) 633-1000

“I have seen part of the planet that few have seen, and I have had the time to walk and photograph and feel our world without its veneer of human activity. Antarctica cannot be tamed.” That is the last journal entry Joan Myers wrote, summing up four months of photographing scientific study and the daily life on the world’s “most hostile continent.” The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), through Joan Myer’s breathtaking photographs, offers a glimpse of the majestic continent of Antarctica that has captured the imagination of explorers, scientists and armchair travelers alike.

The traveling exhibition Wondrous Cold: An Antarctic Journey will premiere at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History on May 18 and will remain on view through Sept. 4. The exhibition will then embark on a 15-venue national tour lasting through the spring of 2010. The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of Quark Expeditions.

Award-winning photographer Joan Myers, recipient of an Antarctic Artists and Writers Program grant from the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs, spent October 2002 through January 2003 photographing scientific study and the daily life at McMurdo Station. She also explored the interior of the continent by plane, ship, helicopter and snowmobile. While away from McMurdo base, she spent some time photographing on a Coast Guard icebreaker, at the South Pole, at field stations in the Dry Valleys and from the top of Mt. Erebus, an active volcano, to name a few. Throughout her journey, she photographed in below freezing temperatures with wind chills as low as -84 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wondrous Cold features 50 stunning color and black-and-white photographs. Large panoramas of Antarctica’s austere beauty and inhuman scale are juxtaposed with wildlife, people and the abandoned huts of early explorers Scott and Shackleton. Panels explore the scientists who conduct research in climatology, glaciology, biology and astronomy at McMurdo Station and the support staff that keeps the station functioning. The exhibition also includes historical, scientific and political background and a description of life at the station.

Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, highest, driest and most remote continent on the Earth. No permanent human settlement has ever been established on Antarctica, but dozens of countries maintain research stations there to study its geological past, its spectacular glaciers and abundant coastal wildlife, and our global environment and the cosmos.

McMurdo Station is the largest of three permanent American scientific research stations built in the 1950s. There are approximately 1,500 summer residents at McMurdo and they work long hours, often in extreme cold. Only a few hundred remain at the station through the austral winter, February to October, maintaining the station and its machinery. Though technology has improved, residents who remain through the winter must be prepared for the same physical isolation experienced by Scott and Shackleton before them.

A full-color companion book complements the national traveling exhibition. Wondrous Cold: An Antarctic Journey will be published by HarperCollins and will be available in stores in April 2006. For more information, visit

Since 1991, Quark Expeditions has taken travelers to the polar regions, pioneering the use of powerful Russian icebreakers and ice-strengthened vessels for adventure travel. For further information, visit

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play.

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Exhibition Specifications

Tour Itinerary

Exhibition Images

Promotional Materials

Related Publications

Press Release

More Exhibitions from SITES


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