“Through the Lens: Arctic Biodiversity” is a photographic exhibition that will be on display at the Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum during the spring semester.
The exhibition, which has been shown from Iceland to Canada, features Arctic-related photos that were highly regarded in a competition sponsored by the Conservation of Arctic Fauna and Flora Secretariat (CAFF).

CAFF is devoted to the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, ensuring that residents and governments of Arctic countries have up-to-date and accurate information about Arctic plants and animals. 

CAFF also promotes practices which ensure the sustainability of the Arctic’s resources. In 2014, they released a report on Arctic biodiversity and held the photography competition to mark the launch of the report.

 According to Genevieve LeMoine, curator and registrar of the Arctic Museum, this competition is the first artistic outreach that CAFF has initiated, as their mandate is typically directed at educating through scientific means and is usually focused on the scientific and policy-making community. The competition included 18-and-under and 14-and-under categories in addition to thematic groupings. The winning photos from these categories are also shown in the exhibit, one of them being a photo taken by a seven-year-old.

LeMoine is happy that the Arctic Museum is showing photos taken by less experienced photographers. “It’s nice to have amateur photography being shown and perhaps inspiring people to get out there and do their own photographing,” she said.

The foyer where the photos are currently being shown typically displays works from the Arctic Museum’s collection and thus are usually historic. 

“One of the things that I’m excited to do is to be exhibiting contemporary photography,” said LeMoine.

Many of the photos are aimed at showing the effects of society on biodiversity. One of LeMoine’s favorite photos in the exhibit shows a researcher in Siberia who was trapped inside his hut by hundreds of walruses. 

“It’s not necessarily beautiful to look at, but the story is great,” she said.

The exhibit on Bowdoin’s campus is not the only event in which CAFF is connecting its mission to Maine. 

This coming fall, the Arctic Council will have a meeting in Portland, Maine. According to LeMoine, this is the first time this meeting will be held outside of the Arctic. She explained that this event is related to Senator Angus King’s work to promote Maine as a gateway to the Arctic.
To lead up to this initiative, the Arctic Museum will be holding talks and other events with growing excitement to connect Maine with the Arctic.

LeMoine added, “It totally fits in with our mission both in terms of the science and national history of the Arctic but also art in the Arctic as well so it’s a nice addition to what we normally do.”