Arctic Air: Andrée’s Balloon Flight to North Pole | New Exhibition at Balloon Museum

Source: City of Albuquerque

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – When the bold balloon flight of S.A. Andrée began on July 11, 1897, no one had yet reached the North Pole. There had been other attempts, all unsuccessful, but this expedition intended to fly there by balloon from Danes Island, an icy outpost at nearly the top of the world.

Inside Arctic Air’s replica balloon house at the Balloon Museum.(Credit: AAAIBM Staff)

This dramatic and often misunderstood story is the subject of the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum’s newly opened special exhibition, Arctic Air: The Bold Flight of S.A. Andrée.

His balloon, which was named Örnen (Eagle), and the expedition as a whole was well equipped and supported by technology that was innovative or state-of-the-art for the time.  Andrée had also designed, tested, and installed a combination of balloon steering systems – sails and guide ropes – that were intended to influence their direction and altitude.

“Arctic Air explores the history and technology of the expedition,” said Marilee Nason, Balloon Museum Curator, “and it delves into who these explorers were, their experiences in the Arctic, the people in their lives at home and the motivation for such a journey.”

Journals of the three crew members, as well as photographs taken on the journey, tell a detailed story, one that the Balloon Museum presents in an immersive display.

The façade of the exhibition is a replica of the prefabricated balloon house, or hangar, that Andrée transported from Sweden and assembled on Danes Island in 1896. An interior portion of the replica balloon house forms one of the exhibition’s galleries. Another is designed to look like a late-19th Century parlor, while the third simulates an Arctic camp used by Andrée and the two men who joined him on the flight, Nils Strindberg and Knut Fraenkel.

This gallery of Arctic Air depicts the expedition’s camp. It also shows the multi-media design of the exhibition. (Credit: AAAIBM Staff)

The high-tech exhibition, designed and installed by Sightworks, LLC,  has a multi-media design.  It includes interactive touchscreens, videos, photographs, text panels, artifacts, newspapers and replica items central to the story such as a polar bear.

Since it opened in 2005, the Museum has welcomed nearly one million visitors from Albuquerque and many other communities in New Mexico, as well as from across the country and around the world. Through its extensive collection of artifacts, interactive special exhibitions and engaging educational programs, the Museum is a gateway to science, exploration and discovery. The Museum is open year-round and hosts many community-oriented special events, features unique art and architecture, and offers distinctive rental spaces for meetings, weddings, receptions and other celebrations.

Source: City of Albuquerque

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