Exhibition on Charcot

The 25th February 2007 an exhibition on the life and work of Jean-Baptiste Charcot was opened at the Suðurnes University Research Centre and the Nature Centre, Sandgerði, SW Iceland.

Location: Fræðasetur (Nature Centre), Garðvegur 1, center of Sandgerði town (only 10 minutes drive from the International Airport).

The exhibition is open daily from 09.00 to 17.00 and on Saturdays and Sundays from 13.00 to 17.00. Entry fee is IKR 400.

For further information contact Reynir Sveinsson, tel. 00354-423 7551 and 00354-897 8007.

Who was Jean-Baptiste Charcot?
The famous French polar explorer dr. Jean-Baptiste Charcot (1867-1936) was one of the great explorers of Antarctic and Arctic waters at the beginning of last century. Other great names from that time were Amundsen, Scott, Nordenskjold and Peary.

At the beginning of the last century he planned and led two expeditions to the southern hemisphere and mapped large part of the coastline of Graham Land on the Antarctic Peninsula. He was the first French explorer to over-winter in Antarctic waters with his crew, first on the vessel Français (1903-1905) and later on the Pourquois pas? (1908-1910).

After the Second World War he planned and lead numerous multidisciplinary expeditions to Arctic waters, for instance to the Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Jan Mayen and Greenland.

The research vessel Pourquoi pas?
His most famous research vessel was the Pourquoi pas? (Why not?). The vessel had three laboratories and an excellent library. During the cruises of the vessel, the crew and the scientists onboard made numerous discoveries and sampled plants and animals for later studies. The expeditions are still considered very valuable in scientific content.

On the 16th of September 1936 Pourquoi pas? got unexpectedly into high storm off Reykjanes, SW Iceland, got carried with the wind ashore and perished on the skerry Hnokki in the inner part of Faxaflói, off Mýrar. In all 40 persons died; 23 were found dead and 17 were reported missing. Only one person survived.

Distinguished friend of Iceland
The Pourquoi pas? stopped frequently in Iceland on its way into the Arctic. Charcot had many friends in Iceland and he nourished this friendship until the end. The tragic news of the loss of the Pourquoi pas? were felt deeply by the Icelanders. When a memorial service was held in Reykjavík in honor of Charcot and his crew, every shop in the city closed. This is the only incidence in Iceland’s history this has happened.

Exhibition of rare items
The 25th of February 2007 an exhibition was opened at the Suðurnes University Research Centre, dealing with the life and work of this remarkable person. The magnificent climax of an early times research vessel has been reconstructed on the exhibition. A wealth of information on the life of Charcot is presented.

Among objects on display are remarkable items from the Pourquoi pas? which drifted ashore after the accident. Additionally a few painting and other items are on a display, which have not been shown earlier in Iceland.

These items have been borrowed from the Musée de la marine, Paris. CulturesFrance has taken care of the transport of these items to Iceland.

The grandchild of Jean-Baptiste Charcot, Mrs. Anne-Marie Vallin-Charcot has additionally donated personal documents and items to the exhibition. Additionally, local museums have loaned numerous times in order to create a climax of a research vessel from the beginning of last century.

This exhibition is a part of the French Spring in Iceland.

Supporters
The exhibition was supported by:

Town of Sandgerði,
Hitaveita Suðurnesja Electrical Station at Reykjanes
Sparisjóðurinn í Keflavík
Samband Sveitarfélaga á Suðurnesjum
University of Iceland, Musée de la marine, Paris
CulturesFrance
 

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