Arctic Collections Close Up & Talk

This is a past event

Join the Museums & Special Collections Curators for a Collections Close Up WINTER SPECIAL inspired by our Arctic Collections.

Come along to the Lower Ground Floor of the Sir Duncan Rice Library - home to the Museums & Special Collections - to see and hear about a selection of books and museum objects from the University of Aberdeen’s Collections – a real treat for anyone interested in the history of connections between Scotland and the Arctic.


17:15 - 17:45

TALK: John Rae & the Arctic - Dr Jennifer Downes

FREE but please book to reserve a seat.

Join curator Jenny Downes to hear the fascinating history of John Rae’s Arctic explorations in the 1840s and 50s.

Orcadian born John Rae travelled astonishing distances across Arctic Canada. Unusually for his time, he immersed himself in learning survival skills from indigenous Arctic peoples, becoming expert in travelling light and living off the land. He fell into conflict with the British establishment after he was the first European to learn of the disastrous fate of Sir John Franklin’s expedition in search of the Northwest Passage. His report that Franklin’s crew had resorted to cannibalism was a shocking outcome that Victorian society was reluctant to accept.

About the speaker

Jenny Downes is Exhibitions and Public Programming Manager for Museums and Special Collections, University of Aberdeen, planning exhibitions and outreach for the University of Aberdeen’s extensive collections of museum items, archives and rare books. She has a particular fascination for the history of the Arctic.

Illustration from 'The last of the Arctic Voyages: being a narrative of the expedition of H.M.S. Assistance, under the command of Sir Edward Belcher, in search of Sir John Franklin, during the years 1852-54'.

17:45 - 18:30 

Collections Close Up

FREE. Drop-in, no need to book.

You are invited to drop into the Reading Room to see and hear about a selection of the books and museum objects related to this evening's talk. 

Snow goggles used by Inuit people in Arctic winter travel, ABDUA:6135

Until 19:00

EXHIBITION - Barbara Rae: The Northwest Passage

If you haven't seen the current exhibition Barbara Rae: The Northwest Passage, the Gallery on the ground floor of the Library will be open until 7pm.

Inuit carving of a hunter travelling on a sled pulled by huskies, carrying hunting equipment ABDUA:85006

Dr Jenny Downes
Hosted by
University of Aberdeen Museums & Special Collections
The Sir Duncan Rice Library, Lower Ground Floor Seminar Room & Reading Room

For further details/enquiries email 

To reserve a seat for the Talk, please follow the booking link below.