Stamford Museum Explores The Last Frontiers

The Stamford Museum and Nature Center's "Anthony Fiala and the Race to the North Pole" exhibit will tell the sad tale of Anthony Fiala's difficult and unsuccessful journey to one of the harshest environments on Earth.

has dated the opening of its next major exhibit, detailing an American's journey to the North Pole, for Sept. 10.

"Last Frontiers: Anthony Fiala and the Race to the North Pole is an examination of an attempt to reach the North Pole that took place in 1903–05, based on a group of objects held for many years in the Stamford Museum & Nature Center’s collections and never shown before," Robin A. Wexler said in a press release, announcing the exhibit's opening.

First question: Who was Anthony Fiala?

A New Jersey native, Anthony Fiala (1869 –1950) led the Zeigler Polar Expedition in 1903, one of many expensive American-led ventures to reach the North Pole after the turn of the 20th century. Fiala's expedition ended in failure when his ship was lost in the Arctic, leaving Fiala and his men marooned until they were rescued by William S. Champm.

While US Navy engineer Robert Peary and Matthew Henson are most-often credited with being the first Americans to reach the North Pole, Peary's claims have come under a great deal of scrutiny in recent years. There is no true consensus as to who successfully reached the North Pole first, as is the case with nearly all expeditions throughout history.

Fiala published his account of the arduous journey to the North Pole in 1906, titled "Fighting the Polar Ice". Fiala died in 1950.

"The exhibition includes Fiala’s stunning Arctic photographs; sledges; hand-carved skis; a blanket and a rifle saved from the “America,” the expedition’s ship, crushed by the ice; a letter from Theodore Roosevelt to William Ziegler; original correspondence between the men; the team’s on-site publication, The Arctic Eagle; a painting by Russell Williams Porter, assistant scientist and artist; and many other publications and ephemera," Wexler stated.

"Aims, Hopes, and Endeavors", an art exhibit by contemporary artist Heddi Vaughan Siebel, will be a companion exhibit to Last Frontiers that will "evoke the interior life" of Fiala and his men, exploring through art their hard, fruitless struggle.

"Her ongoing journey to retrieve their story began in 1998 with a Fulbright Grant to retrace the expedition in Norway and Svalbard and paint the landscape as far north as 79 degrees north latitude," Wexler said.

LAST FRONTIERS: Anthony Fiala and the Race to the North Pole and AIMS, HOPES, AND ENDEAVORS: An Art Installation by Heddi Vaughan Siebel will be on exhibit from September 10 through October 30 in the Museum’s Bendel Mansion Museum Galleries.  The Bendel Mansion Museum Galleries are open, Monday – Saturday, 9 am – 5 pm; Sundays, 11am – 5 pm.




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