Old Capitol exhibit chronicles Iowan's historic sailing voyages

Old Capitol exhibit chronicles Iowan's historic sailing voyages

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Opening reception, talk set for Thursday, Jan. 23

Join Iowa native David Thoreson on a series of historic sailing voyages in “The Northwest Passage and Oceans Beyond: An Iowan Sails into History.” This photographic adventure will be on display Jan. 23 through May 25 in the Keyes Gallery for Arts, Humanities and Sciences at the University of Iowa Old Capitol Museum. Thoreson will speak about his travels at an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23.

Photo of a man holding a camera in front of a sail on a sailboat
David Thoreson wields his camera on board Ocean Watch. Photo by Kirsty Thoreson.

For centuries, explorers sailed treacherous Arctic seas in search of the famed Northwest Passage—a trade route connecting the North Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Many of the expeditions ended in disaster, succumbing to Arctic pack ice. The Northwest Passage was thought unnavigable until Roald Amundsen negotiated the perilous waters between 1903 and 1906.

More than a century later, photographer/videographer Thoreson was on board the first American sailboat to successfully navigate the frigid waters connecting the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

An accomplished sailor whose maritime credits include a successful voyage below the Antarctic Circle, Thoreson attempted to cross the Northwest Passage in 1994 on the 57-foot sailboat Cloud Nine. After icy conditions threatened to crush the sailboat’s hull, the crew was forced to retreat.

Thirteen years later, Thoreson made another attempt and claims a changing Arctic climate reduced the pack ice dramatically, assisting in a successful navigation of the Northwest Passage.

In 2009, Thoreson sailed north to the passage from the Pacific for a west-to-east attempt on a scientifically equipped sailing vessel, Ocean Watch. This attempt was also successful, and the 65-foot sailboat and crew continued on a 28,000-mile journey to circumnavigate the Americas while studying important ocean and sea issues.

In this premier exhibit, Thoreson shares his historic voyages and examines the implications of a rapidly changing Arctic and ocean environment.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, contact the Old Capitol Museum in advance at 319-335-2010.


Shalla Ashworth, Old Capitol Museum, 319-384-3601


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