|Sealskin and pigment map of the Bering Strait, 1966.19.1. Copyright Pitt Rivers Museum.|
Despite the current pandemic many Museum have now reopened to the public and are trying to resume ‘normal business’ as best as possible. A very public facing part of normal business for museums is to plan and hold a number of temporary exhibitions. Depending on the scale of the exhibition, these often take years in the planning. Just before the UK lockdown the Pitt Rivers Museum was preparing to loan an amazing sealskin pictogram (1966.19.1) from our permanent displays to the British Museum for the exhibition ‘Arctic: Culture and Climate’. Thankfully the exhibition has been rescheduled and will go ahead opening to the public on the 22nd October 2020 – 21 February 2021. The exhibition celebrates the ingenuity, creativity and resourcefulness of those who live in the Arctic regions and will include work by Arctic artists, poets and musicians as well as historical artefacts. The map we have lent to the exhibition of the Bering Strait was made by a Siberian Yupik man sometime between 1850-1865 and depicts intimate scenes of life with hunting, travelling, animal migrations, spiritual migrations, spiritual beings and events happening on the Russian and American coastlines. The map was most likely made by an important whaling captain and trader and passed on to British naval officer William Hooper. For the loan to happen we had to adapt our practices, overseeing the installation of the map in the gallery at the British Museum virtually via video call. This would not be possible for a more complex object but the map was secured to a backboard and so needed minimal handling to be condition checked and put in the display case.
Deputy Head of Collections