YW-CT Mystic Museum: Death in the Ice: The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition

“Opening the aperture” – this is some of YaleWomen’s best work!

YaleWomen Connecticut invites you on an expedition – an extraordinary journey of exploration and discovery (family friendly for children ages 10 and older)

- - with Elysa Engelman, PhD (’94 Yale College), Director of Exhibits - -

at Mystic Seaport Museum

Death in the Ice: The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Beginning promptly at 10:00 am


10:00 am         Meet in the lobby of the Thompson Exhibition Building to begin making the connections between the exhibit and the local history of southeastern Connecticut.

10:15 am         Adjourn to the Masin Conference Room at the rear of the Thompson Exhibition Building. Elysa will give a brief welcome and lay the groundwork for the self-guided exhibit experience to come in the Thompson Exhibition. Follow your own interests or ask Elysa to show you the highlights.

12:00 noon      Back to the Masin Conference Room for lunch and more conversation. Ask Elysa questions, share your reactions to the exhibit, discuss the complexities of hosting an internationally touring exhibit such as this. (Note: if you are not interested in purchasing and joining the lunch, you are free to go off on your own.)

1:00 pm           On your own – there are many possibilities to explore and experience – note that the Museum closes at 4 pm.

Registration and cost:

The Museum has generously extended its group discount rate to us. For this, we must have a minimum of 15 people (adults @ $23.95 each and children ages 10-17 @ $13.95 each, plus Eventbrite service charge). Boxed lunches (sandwich with pasta salad, fruit salad, mystic chips, a fresh baked jumbo cookie and beverage) $19 each (plus Eventbrite service charge). Maximum capacity: 30 people. Don’t miss this unique opportunity – register now!

Register no later than Tuesday, March 5th here.

Due to the planning for this program, we are not able to issue refunds for cancellations or no-shows.

Have questions? Need additional information? Contact Susan Lennon at [email protected].

To whet your appetite -- do you know?

This is a story that has launched more than three dozen search and recovery missions, and over the past 170+ years it has inspired novels, plays, songs, and TV shows such as the 2017 horror series Terror. Margaret Atwood called it the origin myth of disasters for Canadians. This is the first comprehensive exhibit on the Franklin Expedition since the ships were located, and travels to Mystic from London and Ottawa before moving on to Alaska. Learn the story and see the artifacts, some recovered from the shipwrecks as recently as 2016. All the major angles are covered, including:

  • History – Possessed with a vast navy and extremely confident of its sailing prowess, Victorian England was obsessed with the Arctic, which represented their biggest hope of traversing the Northwest Passage, the much desired, possibly faster, trade route from Europe to Asia. In May 1845, Sir John Franklin and his 128-member crew set sail from London, England aboard HMS Erebus and Terror. They were last seen by Europeans in Baffin Bay, off the southwest corner of Greenland in July 1845. The enduring mystery of the Franklin Expedition is still unraveling.
  • Anthropology and Indigenous Rights – Inuit oral histories have played a significant role in uncovering the fate of the Franklin Expedition. Their critical contributions include both traditional knowledge and oral histories relating to the European exploration of the Arctic Archipelago, which you can listen to on audio stations interspersed throughout the exhibition, and historical artifacts, some of which incorporated materials of European origin, which were traded from explorers or retrieved from abandoned ships.
  • Underwater Archaeology – Parks Canada divers give a video tour of one wreck, and you’ll see the unbroken plates, glass bottles, and other daily items they’ve recovered from this remote dive site. With a short dive season entirely dependent on weather in the remote Canadian Arctic, each year the archaeologists plan for the worst, but hope to get even a few days on the wrecks to explore, document, and recover more evidence of what happened onboard.
  • Forensics – In examining tissues collected from human remains recovered from Beechey Island, forensic anthropologists found that the amount of lead in the bones of some of the men was exponentially high, leading to the theory that lead poisoning may have been one of the factors contributing to the expedition’s demise. Other factors include scurvy and starvation, and perhaps cannibalism. DNA analysis has also matched crew members with descendants.
  • Climate change – As the Northwest Passage has become more accessible to ships and boats of all types, the race to find and preserve the Franklin Expedition ships and camp sites has intensified. Learn how the Expedition suffered due to unexpectedly thick seasonal ice that trapped their ships even in the summer.

Read more here and here and here!

March 16, 2019 at 10:00am - 1pm
Mystic Seaport Museum

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