Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, Bowdoin College

28 Aug 2019 10:47 AM | Anonymous member

Matthew Alexander Henson: First African-American at the North Pole

Matthew Henson Photo Exhibit ā€“ August 27, 2019-December 31, 2019

Matthew Henson spent years exploring the Arctic with Robert E. Peary and in 1909 he was the only other American to stand with Peary at the North Pole. Henson was excluded from receiving the many honors showered on Peary and the other white members of the expedition. Only near the end of his life did Henson received recognition for his remarkable career as an Arctic explorer. This exhibit is in conjunction with the AF/AM/50 celebrations.

Matthew Henson, Matt to his friends, was born in Maryland in 1866, the son of free-born sharecroppers. Orphaned at age seven or eight he lived briefly with his uncle in Washington, D.C. before running away to sea when he was eleven.  He traveled the world as a cabin boy and seaman for eight years before returning to Washington. There, in 1887, while working at a haberdashery, he met Robert E. Peary, who was preparing for a survey expedition to Nicaragua. Peary hired Henson as a valet for that trip, the beginning of a long working relationship between the two men.

Museum Hours:

Tuesday-Saturday: 10:00aā€“5:00p

Sunday: 2:00pā€“5:00p

Closed: Mondays and national holidays

The museum is located in Hubbard Hall at Bowdoin College and admission is FREE.

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