Many of us don’t realize the severity of the winter conditions of the Eastern Arctic. The region’s native people, the Inuit, forge through winter blizzards and temperatures potentially as low as -53 degrees Fahrenheit.
Apart from the Inuit, who would be brave enough to venture into this frozen world? American whale ships and their crews, that’s who!
Between 1875 and 1919, Captain George Comer of East Haddam, CT, often sailed to the Western Hudson Bay. Though the conditions were harsh, the region became a second home to Comer, thanks in large part to his friendship with the Inuit.
Mystic Seaport’s ground-breaking exhibition Frozen In: Captain Comer and the Hudson Bay Inuit, is an exploration of Captain Comer, his crew and the relationships they built with the Inuit. Comer made 14 voyages to Hudson Bay and his fascination with the region’s native people became a passion that helped reveal Inuit culture to the world.
Comer collected more than 4,000 Inuit objects, and they now survive among several museum and private collections. A group of these objects were carefully chosen for the exhibit, including tools, hunting gear and elaborately beaded Inuit clothing. Also on view are personal mementoes, Comer’s camera and other equipment. Selections from Comer’s 30 journals, 65 sound recordings, 300 photographs and 300 Inuit life masks are also represented.
Some of the country’s most highly-regarded museums loaned items for the exhibit, including the American Museum of Natural History, the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Yale’s Peabody Museum. Additionally, several other organizations as well as Comer’s descendents loaned objects. Many of these items have never before been on public display and collectively, they provide a first-ever, detailed view of Comer and his relationship with the Inuit.
By the early 20th century, Comer had become the world’s foremost authority on the Inuit of Hudson Bay. His work has had a lasting impact and his collections offer an extraordinary view of a fascinating whaling captain and traditional Inuit culture.
Don’t miss this chance to learn about the Inuit, their culture and their icy region. Due to popular demand, Frozen In: Captain Comer and the Hudson Bay Inuit, will remain open through October 2009.
This exhibit will transport you to the Arctic world of Comer and the Inuit. You will find a re-created igloo, (with an entrance you can actually climb through!), a full-size reproduction of the deckhouse where Comer and his crew spent most of their time, ingenuously crafted Inuit objects and striking enlargements of Comer’s remarkable photos. Three sound and video programs provide visitors with an emotional and dramatic connection to Comer and the Inuit.