The exposition of the National Museum of the Antarctic – Siena Section (covering a surface area of roughly 250 square metres) has been organized as a thematic itinerary which, starting from exploration and the development of science on the continent, probes the main themes of Antarctic research: geology, glaciology, paleoclimatology, biology, atmospheric and oceanic sciences, thematic cartography.
The Antarctic – Antarktikòs of Greek mythology – Terra Australis Nondum Cognita from the 16th century on, became Terra Cognita only in the 20th century, thanks first to the “heroic phase” of expeditions and then later to the International Geophysical Year (1957-58). The polar regions – and the Antarctic in particular – play a fundamental role in regulating the entire system of the Earth, influencing climate, the ecosystems and the community of living creatures, including human beings.
These historic, political, and scientific aspects of the Antarctic are addressed here through exhibits thatinclude finds, images, bibliographic and cartographic material, and multimedial systems with the aim of offering the educational system and the general citizenry an informational tool to share knowledge and prompt reflection.
Contained within the Museum are more than 20,000 samples of rocks and fossils, and more than 1,000 meteorites collected in Antarctica during expeditions by the National Programme for Antarctic Research. The library holds more than 5,000 titles published from 1840 on, concerning multiple aspects of the polar regions, from international law to Earth Sciences, from preservation of the environment to the sharing of scientific knowledge, from biology to exploration.
Visitors may therefore view Antarctic rocks, minerals and meteorites, touch fossilized tree trunks from 300 million years ago. Through films and interactive stations, they may observe animals living on the continent and in the ocean, and search for meteorites among the blue ice.