Weathering climate change in the Arctic
Amber Lincoln assesses the achievements of Arctic
Peoples and their resilience in the face of current challenges
At its heart, The Citi exhibition Arctic: culture and climate explores Indigenous perspectives on Arctic environments and histories, and addresses the timely topic of climate change through the lens of weather. Indigenous Arctic Peoples are at the front line of global climate change. The Arctic is warming at more than twice the rate of anywhere else. Climate scientists predict that Arctic summers will be ice-free within 80 years, raising sea levels and altering weather patterns worldwide.
Highlighting Indigenous perspectives on our rapidly changing world, this immersive exhibition will create an unparalleled opportunity to marvel at the achievements of Arctic Peoples (their hand-crafted tools, sewn garments, artwork, photography, films and stories) while learning from their resilience. Arctic Peoples have lived with climate variability and dramatic daily and seasonal weather fluctuations for 30,000 years. Through cultural adaptation, material innovation and social collaboration they have persevered amid intense environmental and social disruption. But if the Arctic is ice-free within 80 years, what will happen to these rich ways of life and artistic expressions centred on the ice and cold?
The creation of this exhibition has been a collaborative endeavour and results from the tremendous commitment and contributions of numerous Arctic Peoples. Indigenous community and research partners generously shared their knowledge with us during research visits to Alaska, Canada and Sweden, and during museum documentation
28 British Museum Magazine Spring/Summer 2020
Kenojuak Ashevak, Nunavut Qajanartuk (Our Beautiful Land). Lithograph and watercolour, 1992. Reproduced with the permission of West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative.