29 Chestnut Hill Rd., Bridgeport, CT Phone: 203-331-1104.
Wednesday, February 12 at 12:15 p.m. – Attendees are invited to bring their lunches and favorite Barnum book. $2 Donation. For this month's talk, Saint-Pierre will present a recently re-discovered and highly unusual artifact from the museum's collection, a 19th century polar expedition sleeping bag made of caribou (reindeer) hide. The sleeping bag was used in 1884 during a dangerous Arctic rescue mission undertaken by the USS Bear, which resulted in locating the few desperate survivors of the ill-fated "Greely Expedition." Officially called the U.S. Expedition to Lady Franklin Bay, the expedition was part of the first cooperative effort among countries around the world to collect and share polar climate data for the purpose of expanding our understanding of the earth's climate system. Tragically, the U.S. team had essentially been abandoned in the Arctic, struggling to survive after the repeated failures of missions to re-supply the men with the food and fuel they would need during their two-year project. Most of the 25 men had perished by the end of the third year, but their scientific mission had been accomplished, and they also set a new record for reaching "Farthest North," beating the British who had held that title for centuries. The harrowing story behind this artifact is both chilling and riveting and it even has a fascinating link to a topic of current concern, global warming. Saint-Pierre will talk about the extremely rare sleeping bag and its construction and design for polar use and how it came to the museum in 1890. Attendees are encouraged to return to the museum on February 23 to hear more about the expedition itself.