Introduction to the Exhibition

Arctic Voices is a co-production of the Canadian Museum of Nature and Science North.

The following description of Arctic Voices is presented as an introduction to the exhibition for marketing personnel and staff as well as prospective sponsors, educators and other groups.

Arctic Voices takes visitors to the fascinating and changing world of the Arctic, through interactive and object-based exhibits and multimedia experiences. Visitors explore the Arctic through the sights, sounds, and voices of this beautiful and changing place. They discover the wildlife, marvel at the landscapes, and meet the people who call the Arctic home.

The Arctic may seem like a distant place, but it is deeply connected to the rest of the world. Human actions are causing rapid changes in the North, and understanding these changes is important for the future of the planet. Visitors explore the impact of changing climate in the Arctic through many "voices", including the animals and plants that live there, the people who inhabit this region, and the scientists and others who are helping to reveal what makes this place so special.

The emblem of the Arctic has long been the majestic polar bear, but there is much more to the Arctic landscape and its wildlife for visitors to explore. The Arctic has terrestrial and marine ecosystems interdependent on one another, supporting both land and marine animals and plants, many of which are found nowhere else. People are an integral part of the Arctic; their traditions, cultures and livelihoods are deeply connected to the landscape around them. They are experiencing the direct impacts of climate change.

The exhibit is divided into the following thematic zones:

Zone 1: Introductory Experience

Arctic Voices provides you with the opportunity to explore, and perhaps ultimately be inspired to protect, this vulnerable and special region of our planet. Challenge your perceptions of the Arctic through thought-provoking imagery, and study a circumpolar map to appreciate the immensity of the Arctic.

Zone 2: My Connection to the Arctic

Why should you care about a land in the far North that is sparsely populated, and that may seem so remote, cold and inhospitable? Realize that your connection to the Arctic is perhaps greater than you think.

Learn how your everyday actions are impacting the Arctic and how the Arctic is impacting on you. At the Global Connections computer station, explore how the Arctic affects global systems and influences the weather you experience. View animations showing how the extent of sea ice has changed over the past decades, how climate change will affect the ice cover in the future, and how shrinking sea ice will have an impact on the whole planet. Watch videos of scientists engaged in Arctic research, and learn how science and traditional knowledge are helping to increase our understanding of the Arctic.

Zone 3: Awesome Animal Adaptations

While some animals are seasonal visitors during the long days of the Arctic summer, wildlife that live in the Arctic year-round have adapted to the freezing, dark winter days. Explore life in the Arctic Ocean and the wondrous ways in which whales and other marine wildlife survive in these extreme conditions. Relax and appreciate the wonder of Arctic whales in the Whales of the Arctic Theatre, and visit the interactive exhibit stations about each whale species.

Participate in a multiplayer quiz where you take on the role of the researcher and interpret the behaviours of Arctic animals. Examine real specimens to find out more about survival techniques of birds, fish, mammals and other Arctic animals. If you're a younger (or young at heart) visitor, take the challenge to mimic Arctic animals by pushing, pouncing and hopping.

Learn about the majestic polar bears: their long travels on the ice, how they survive extremely cold temperatures and how their lives are being impacted by a warming climate. Take your photo beside life-size images of the three North American bears, and compare the features of black bears and brown bears to polar bears.

Zone 4: Land, Water and Ice

The physical landscape of the Arctic holds many marvels. While images associated with snow and ice may typically come to mind, it is also a land with a stunning palette of colours and textures, from flowering plants on the tundra to life teeming beneath the sea ice.

Take a garden tour of the Arctic to discover the amazing and diverse adaptations of Arctic plants, and explore how people use these plants for food and medicine. Discover why permafrost (permanently frozen ground) is thawing more each year, and the repercussions of this to people, wildlife and the planet.

Reveal the incredible extent of an iceberg hidden beneath the water's surface. "Crawl beneath the ice" to investigate the Arctic Ocean's food web. At the Newcomers to the North multiplayer quiz, test your knowledge about species that are moving further and further north due to climate change – including mosquitoes and elk.

Zone 5: Arctic Peoples

This land is home to a number of peoples, who are observing and feeling the effects of climate change on a daily basis. Through video testimonials and demonstrations, hear the voices of the Northern peoples, and appreciate their knowledge, unique culture and continued connection with the land and the ocean.

Participate in throat singing, a traditional art with modern applications. Watch throat singing performances and a demonstration of the basic techniques, then try it out and view your own performance!

Zone 6: Exit Experience

This final experience revisits the use of imagery to challenge your views and perceptions of the Arctic – a land that is changing in many ways. What is your polar perspective now?


Interactive Exhibits:

Introductory and Exit Experiences
Challenge your perceptions of the Arctic through thought-provoking imagery.

What is the Arctic?
Study a circumpolar map to appreciate the immensity of the Arctic.

Puijila darwini skeleton
Examine a model, based on a 3D computer reconstruction, of a 20-million-year-old fossil skeleton of a prehistoric walking seal that turned out to be the "missing link" in the evolution of seals.

Polar Bear
Stand next to an authentic polar bear specimen and examine its unique features and adaptations.

Polar Bear Weigh Sling
Get up close to a supportive sling that is used by field researchers to lift polar bears off the ground with a pulley system, in order to weigh them.

The Three Bears
Take your photo beside life-size images of the three North American bears.

Bear Facts
Study real skull and claw specimens to compare the paws, claws and jaws of the three North American bears.

Hop Like an Arctic Hare
Find out how far, and how fast, an Arctic hare can leap in a single bound. Then, test your jumping skills against the powerful hind legs of this amazing Arctic animal.

Breaking the Ice
Are you as strong as a polar bear? Test your strength and discover how polar bears use their powerful bodies to break into ringed seal birthing dens located within the snow.

Diving to Hunt
Try out your high-jumping skills against those of an Arctic fox, which can leap high in the air then dive through the snow onto their prey.

Orcas Expanding Their Range Northward
Use the touchscreen on this exhibit to help guide an Orca through the openings in the ice in order to reach the safety of open ocean water.

The Importance of Sound
Press the buttons on this exhibit to hear communication sounds from whales found in the Arctic.

Narwhals and Belugas
Compare a narwhal skull and beluga skull. Slide a magnifier over a beluga tooth and count the lines to determine how old the whale was.

Arctic Animals Station #1
Examine real specimens to find out more about survival techniques of birds, fish, mammals and other Arctic animals.

Arctic Animals Station #2
Examine authentic specimens of Arctic animals and skulls including an Arctic fox, a snowy owl and other birds, a walrus skull with tusks, a muskox skull and hair, and a barren-ground caribou skull with antlers.

Arctic Animal Adaptations Multiplayer Quiz
Participate in a multiplayer quiz where you take on the role of the researcher and interpret the behaviours of Arctic animals.

Newcomers to the North Multiplayer Quiz
Test your knowledge about species that are moving further and further north due to climate change – including mosquitoes and elk.

Swim Under the Ice
"Crawl beneath the ice" to investigate the Arctic Ocean's food web, but be careful, there may be a polar bear waiting to greet you when you pop up through the sea ice!

Cloudberry Dome
Get an up-close look at the Cloudberry – one of the most popular wild Arctic fruits.

Album of Herbarium Specimens
Flip through the Album of Herbarium specimens collected by the Canadian Museum of Nature and discover the many ways that Inuit make use of the plants around them.

Native Arctic Plants Dome
Take a garden tour of the Arctic to discover the amazing and diverse adaptations of Arctic plants. View samples from Canada's National Herbarium – the most complete collection of Canadian Arctic plant specimens anywhere in the world. The Herbarium is housed at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Iceberg Under the Ice
Reveal the incredible extent of an iceberg hidden beneath the water's surface.

Throat Singing
Participate in throat singing, a traditional art with modern applications. Watch throat singing performances and a demonstration of the basic techniques, then try it out and view your own performance!

Pointing the Way: Inuit Traditional Wayfinding
Pose for a photo next to the exhibit's Inuksuk and discover how Inuksuit serve as sign posts and symbols of a proud cultural heritage, marking locations of camps, stored food and fishing grounds.

Video/Show Experiences:

Global Connections computer station
Explore how the Arctic affects global systems and influences the weather you experience.

Understanding the Arctic
Discover how current research helps us understand changes in the Arctic.

Be a Polar Bear Researcher
Learn more about the tools and techniques used by polar bear researchers such as capture/mark/recapture surveys and photo identification.

A Polar Bear's Year
Learn about the majestic polar bears: their long travels on the ice, how they survive extremely cold temperatures, and how they cope during the brief Artic summers waiting for the sea ice to form again.

Polar Bears: On Thin Ice?
Watch a series of short videos and discover how a warming climate is impacting the lives of polar bears.

Orcas Expanding Their Range Northward
Discover how orcas are now able to spend more time hunting in Arctic waters and how the orca's expanding range might affect other marine mammals.

Whales of the Arctic Theatre
Relax and appreciate the wonder of Arctic whales in the Whales of the Arctic Theatre

Swim Under the Ice – Discover the Arctic Ocean food web
Discover through a series of three videos, how undersea life in the Arctic is delicately balanced and how each individual species is interconnected with all the others.

Methane Gas
Watch a short video that shows methane gas bubbles in the summer, winter and on fire!

Super Hardy Perennials
Learn more about the unique strategies that plants employ in order to take advantage of the short growing season in the high Arctic.

Circumpolar People
Watch a short film entitled To That Place, written, shot and cut by Becky Qilavvaq, starring Anguti Johnston, with music by Inuk artist Charles Keelan, and featuring the voice of Nobel Prize nominee Sheila Watt-Cloutier.

Perspectives: Sharing Inuit Knowledge
Through video testimonials and demonstrations, hear the voices of the Northern peoples, and appreciate their knowledge, unique culture and continued connection with the land and the ocean.

Perspectives: Observations From the Land
Through video testimonials and demonstrations, hear the voices of the Northern peoples, and appreciate their knowledge, unique culture and continued connection with the land and the ocean.

Perspectives: Greatest Classroom On Earth
Through video testimonials and demonstrations, learn more about the Students on Ice program.