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Osher Map Library Exhibition Looks at Polar Exploration

The University of Southern Maine Osher Map Library’s latest exhibition will offer a historical overview, dating back five centuries, of polar exploration and the process of globalization as depicted in maps, charts, books, and artifacts from the Jay I. Kislak Polar Collection. Gallery hours are 1-4 p.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, opening on Tuesday, September 24, and continuing through Thursday, February 27. The exhibit is free and open to the public. 

“To the Ends of the Earth … and Back: Selections from the Jay I. Kislak Polar Collection” opens Tuesday, September 24, at 6 p.m. with a curator’s lecture provided by Arthur Dunkelman, director of the Jay I. Kislak Foundation in Miami Lakes, Florida. The free, public lecture will take place in USM’s Sam L. Cohen Educational Center of the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education, Forest Avenue and Bedford Street, Portland.

For more information, please call 780-4850.

“To the Ends of the Earth … and Back” begins with the Greek and Roman concepts of “Terra Incognita” (unknown land), as the polar regions were first named, continues with the search for the Northeast and Northwest passages to Asia and ends with the ultimate challenge: To reach the South Pole, the end of the earth. This exhibition includes more than 100 objects spanning five centuries that document not only Western expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic but also the impact of those expeditions on popular culture and globalization.

The Kislak Polar Collection was assembled over many years by Jay I. Kislak, a prominent collector of maps, rare books, manuscripts and other artifacts related to world exploration and especially the New World and the polar regions. Kislak and his wife, Jean, residents of Maine and Florida, are lifelong connoisseurs and supporters of the arts.

The Jay I. Kislak Foundation was established in 1984 to foster greater understanding of the cultures and history of the Americas. In 2004, the foundation donated more than 3,000 rare books, maps, manuscripts and artifacts related to the Early Americas to the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

The Jay I. Kislak Collection is the core of the “Exploring the Early Americas,” an ongoing exhibition in the historic Thomas Jefferson Building and is integral to the library’s program of research, education, and public activities. During the past decade the foundation has focused on the early history of navigation, exploration and discovery, with particular emphasis on the polar regions. Selected highlights of the Kislak Polar Collection are on display in this exhibition.


1. Vicenzo  Coronelli, “Terre Artiche” (Venice: ca. 1690)

2. “Afloat on the Ice – Captain Tyson & His Companions Adrift in the Arctic Regions.” Harper’s Weekly: A Journal of Civilization. Vol. XVII, No. 857 (New York: May 31, 1873)

3. Raymond Edward Priestly, drawing of the Terra Nova in ice pack, documenting Shackleton’s 1910 Antarctic expedition.

4. “In the Arctic Regions.” Cadbury’s Cocoa Advertisement from the Illustrated London News (London: February 22, 1896)