Has the fur anorak a queer side?
From the late 19th century, medics, psychologists and legislators ventured boldly into unknown terrain. They measured hormones, described gender variations, formulated sections of laws and, for the first time, mapped the homosexual as a separate human type or sexual orientation.
The mapping of the polar regions, which took place in the same period, is even better known.
Museum collections are sources of history. Skis, compasses and logbooks depict how Nansen and Amundsen’s expeditions conquered new lands, while daring hunters and trappers harvested from the high polar nature.
Can a fur anorak tell us about gay life lived in the Tromsø in the 1940s, and can a walrus tusk shed light on gender transgressions observed in the field in Siberia?
Queering Polar History explores the queer sides of a polar museum’s collection. In the light of new source material – specialist literature, interviews, newspaper articles, archive photos, fiction and urban myths – familiar historical perspectives are reversed. Queer polar history is neither right-angled nor complete but covers conceptions about and people who broke with norms for gender and sexuality in polar regions in the period 1890–1970.
The exhibition is the museum’s contribution to the national Queer Culture Year 2022, which marks that it is 50 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality in Norway. Researchers/curators: Silje Gaupseth and Marit Anne Hauan.
Photo: Mari Karlstad, UiT Norges arktiske universitetsmuseum.