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“That fairyland of ice”: Polar Exploration in Mind and Memory

"That Fairyland of Ice": Polar Exploration in Mind and Memory


“That fairyland of ice” was how the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen described Antarctica in his introduction to fellow Norwegian Roald Amundsen’s The South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition in the "Fram," 1910-1912. Although describing the southern polar region, this applies to the Arctic as well. Like a “fairyland” from folklore, these places may give an impression of glittering white beauty, but danger awaits those who are unprepared.

This exhibit highlights the generous donation of a collection of books and items about the Arctic and Antarctic recently given to Falvey Memorial Library’s Distinctive Collections by Dr. James Wheeler. This material provides a rich new trove of resources to build on themes of exploration that are present throughout our other collections, some of which are also featured in this exhibit. All items are from the James Wheeler Collection, unless otherwise noted. 

This exhibit was co-curated by Laura Bang (Distinctive Collections Librarian) and Rebecca Oviedo (Distinctive Collections Archivist), with graphics by Joanne Quinn (Director of Communications & Marketing). The physical exhibit was installed on the first floor of Falvey Memorial Library, January 2022. This is an expanded online version with additional research, photography and digital curation by Rebecca Oviedo.

Comments or questions can be directed to dcde@villanova.edu.

A Note on Terminology

Most of the texts in this exhibit refer to the indigenous people of the Arctic regions as “Eskimos,” a term that was largely replaced in the late 20th century with “Inuit.” Opinion is divided about the term “Eskimo” among Native Alaskans, however it is considered offensive to Canadian indigenous peoples. For this reason, exhibit copy refers to the “Inuit” despite the titles and captions of original sources that use “Eskimo.”



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