An Arctic day in Zurich with NONAM | Polarjournal
This Sunday, February 4, Zurich NONAM takes you to the Arctic. From Arctic Circumpolar Art to throat singing, mushing and huskies, the museum offers a whole range of activities for adults and children as part of its Arctic Day. Image: Markus Bühler / NONAM

The Arctic comes to Zurich. NONAM has put together a program around the Far North that should delight Arctic enthusiasts and specialists, adults and children.

Zurich’s North American Native Museum (NONAM) launches its Arctic Day. On the program: throat singing, Arctic Circumpolar Art, snow creation, huskies and much more. The aim of the day is not only to introduce visitors to the Arctic, but also to raise public awareness of the issues facing this region. “When NONAM began organizing this event, the Arctic was not yet a region that was talked about as much as it is today,” notes Raffaella Manferdini, head of the museum’s administration. “The aim is to raise awareness of this region, in the context of endangered Indigenous cultures and climate change that is increasingly affecting the Arctic.”

NONAM offers several workshops and guided tours. Starting at 10:00 am, visitors will set off to the far north of Greenland with Markus Bühler’s film about the dog sled race in Qaanaaq, a village of some 600 inhabitants located in the northernmost part of this large ice-covered island. A workshop with real huskies will be held during the day. An opportunity to meet polar doggies and learn more about mushers.

They’ll be there live! During the day, NONAM visitors will have the opportunity to meet real huskies from the Muothatal Valley and learn more about sled dogs and mushers. Image: Markus Trienke / Wikicommons

In terms of culture and art, Arctic Day features a magnificent exhibition of Arctic Circumpolar Art. An opportunity to enjoy a guided tour of the “Sedna. Myth and Change in the Arctic” before the exhibition opens on March 17. Co-organized by the Museum Cerny and the NONAM, the exhibition opened in February 2023, and offers a real immersion into the world of Arctic Indigenous peoples through a number of sculptures, paintings and films. Two guided tours by Martha Cerny, Director at Museum Cerny in Bern, and Heindrun Löb, Director and Chief Curator at NONAM will take place on Sunday morning and afternoon.

Presented by the Museum Cerny in Bern, sculptures, paintings and films will enable visitors to discover the Arctic Indigenous peoples through their art. Image: Jonathan Labusch / NONAM.

Another not-to-be-missed event is Atsynga Letykai performance. This artist from Chukotka, a territory in the far north-east of Siberia, will take you to the endless expanses of the taiga with tales from her native homeland and beautiful, haunting throat singing.

Chukchi artist and shaman Atsynga Letykai is known for her throat-singing performances accompanied by ritual drumming. Image: Nordamerika Native Museum, 2023, Jonathan Labusch

Finally, workshops will be held throughout the day, allowing visitors to discover how snow is formed, with a workshop led by Children’s University Zurich. Adults and children can join the Swiss Polar Class in search of a lost polar expedition camp, before putting on a furry anorak and snow goggles for a souvenir photo next to a kayak or Inukshuk. The more patient can try their hand at string games.

Ajaraaq is a string game where the aim is to represent animal figures, body parts or objects. Traditionally, this game wasn’t just for children – far from it, adults played it too. With practice, the player can achieve highly sophisticated figures. Image : espace-inuit.org

Last year, NONAM welcomed over 500 visitors to its Arctic Day. First launched in 2016 in conjunction with the “Vanishing Thule” exhibition, the museum’s Arctic Day has become an event now held annually at the beginning of February.

To consult the full program, visit the NONAM website.

Mirjana Binggeli, PolarJournal

Featured image: Markus Bühler

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