The “Polar Mission” exhibition will be at the Oceanographic Museum from 4th June 2022. This new tour route covers 5 thematic areas spread over two levels. First discover the poles and their wildlife, via the men and women who populate and explore them. Objects
and documents, digital content and immersive devices are side by side and together complete a 360° experience. The great voyage can begin!

Become an actual reporter and set off on a mission at the heart of the poles!

The “Polar Mission”

Each visitor plays the role of a field reporter on a polar mission. Armed  with their entrance ticket which takes the form of  a “press card”, they trigger content and information throughout their visit.

At the end of the tour, visitors are invited to hand ove r their report on the poles:
a special opportunity to express their thoughts  and feelings about these remote lands and relate back what they have retained.
How? By choosing a title, a cover design, and their own photos as illustrations, like a reporter.

This is an opportunity to create a souvenir of their expedition to these  extreme territories and share it with their family. If they wish to do so, visitors can  also get involved with the Oceanographic Institute and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation,  by actively supporting the  actions carried out to protect the poles and in particular the creation of new Marine Protected Areas  in the polar oceans.

As an individual, each visitor can take action on a daily basis,  contributing to the preservation of these remote territories.

“The future of the poles is also ours” Mélanie Laurent, the ambassador of the exhibition, reminds visitors in a message before adding:  “If your polar mission is coming to an end,  it is in fact here and now that it really begins!”


Meet the explorers of the poles - past, present and future.

As soon as you set foot in the Salon d’Honneur, you will find yourself face to face with the great names of exploration. Selected for their contribution to the knowledge of the poles, these explorers of yesterday and today, men and women in life size photographs, speak about their work and their discoveries. Thirty of them are portrayed on a huge map, along with a brief summary of their history. Nine others are represented in real size: contemporaries, such as Jean Malaurie, Jean-Louis Étienne, or Frederik Paulsen and pioneers, like Jean-Baptiste Charcot or Matthew Henson – the first two have reached the North Pole – as well as two women, including Ada Blackjac. Although she was Inuit, Ada, raised by missionaries, knew very little about the land. However, she was the only one to survive the expedition led by four scientists, for which she was hired as a cook.

The spirit of these expeditions has never wavered, between Prince Albert I, who led four expeditions to Spitzbergen, and HSH Prince Albert II, the only head of state to have visited both poles. Not just for the pleasure of the adventure but to show His determination to act in favour of the protection of these territories, which are today under threat. It was on His return from one of these trips that He decided to create His foundation.


Enter the world of the Inuit

Jean Malaurie, an emblematic figure of polar exploration, has made a gift to the Oceanographic Institute of a very large part of his collections, archives and personal effects, illustrating 70 years of a life devoted to the Arctic peoples.

Through his eyes and his documents – texts, recordings and videos – visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the Inuit culture (life in society, family life, education…). Numerous objects used in daily life (clothes, dance masks, artworks, religious objects…) are also on display in a scenography which reproduces an icy environment with its traditional igloo.

But it also demonstrates to what extent the Inuit way of life and traditions, closely related to nature, are threatened today by climate change, by pollution and are constantly being pushed aside by modernity.
Between sled dogs and snowmobiles, nomadism and sedentarisation,
and ancestral knowledge of the ice that was passed down from father to son and that is now available on apps, how can we find the right balance? It is imperative to listen to what they have to say.



Unlock the secrets of the North and South Pole

The challenge of this third space situated in the Oceanomania room is to get a better grasp of the capital role played by the poles in the balance of the planet, understand how they function, but also become aware of the tremendous upheavals taking place there because of climate change. The visitors will become conscious of the differences between these two extremes: if the Arctic teems with life on sunny days, in the Antarctic life remains concentrated on the coasts and in the ocean. 

Stuffed animals from various scientific collections between the end of the 19th century and that of the 20th illustrate the difference in fauna between these two opposites: the polar bear lives exclusively in the north as the penguin is exclusive to the south.

It is important to understand that each species is at the heart of an ecosystem: if one element is damaged or disappears, the whole ecosystem can collapse. Let’s take the example of the krill, which on the one hand feeds on phytoplankton and on the other is itself the prey of ocean predators (penguins, cetaceans, fish, etc.). Its disappearance or even an imbalance in its production would have serious consequences for the health of the ocean. A global ocean: altering it would harm the whole planet.



Travel from the North Pole to the South Pole

In the “IMMERSION” room, the wild, grandiose beauty of these frozen lands comes to life in an unprecedented immersive and interactive device. With a projection surface area of 650 m², the visitor is propelled into the heart of polar landscapes where he will experience 6 emblematic scenes. Firstly, the North Pole in the company of a she-bear and her cubs, or beneath the sea ice to free-dive beside seals, beluga whales or narwhals. Then to the South Pole where visitors come across whales with ever-open mouths, ready to swallow hundreds of kilos of krill before fleeing under their feet; not forgetting the elephant seals resting on their sides, keeping an eye on the killer whales which are ready to emerge from the water; emperor penguins pressed against each other against the blizzard and to protect their young. A wonderland which ends in the dreamlike polar aurora. A voice-over is present in each picture to remind us of the fragility of this ecosystem and the threats to these species. For instance, bears have difficulties in finding food because of the melting ice pack, just like the penguin colonies at the South Pole.

- SPACE N°5​

Understand the challenges of polar scientific research

Where would knowledge of the poles be if science had not been a stakeholder for many years? Science which will be perceived by visitors in this last space with the presentation of vital data making clear in an instant what is happening in the Arctic and in the Antarctic together with the impacts of these changes worldwide and in our daily life.

The first module presents current knowledge about the climate and the onsequences of its warming: melting ice, rising sea levels, etc. With very concrete and up-to-date explanations, visitors can understand the issues surrounding the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica. This monster, 600 km long, 120 km wide and about 3 km high, is  currently cracking and could break off. Its melting into the ocean alone could represent a rise of some 60 cm in sea level. A second module focuses more specifically on the impacts of global warming on biodiversity: fauna, flora, forests, etc. How, for example, global warming is encouraging huge fires in the forests of the far north.

Finally, the last module recalls what we know about the consequences for humans: whether it is the displacement of populations due to rising sea levels or the melting of permafrost, which is accompanied by the threat of the resurgence of extremely dangerous viruses and bacteria such as anthrax. Three modules with a single purpose: to understand in order to better anticipate.

Funders of the "POLAR MISSION" exhibition

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