Press Releases

Murmur: Arctic Realities Makes Its International Debut at Mystic Seaport January 20

Mixed reality sculpture installation “transports” visitors to the Alaskan tundra

Open Saturday, January 20 – Sunday, April 22, 2018

Mystic, Conn. (Jan. 8, 2018) — Mystic Seaport is proud to host the international debut on Saturday, January 20, 2018, of Murmur: Arctic Realities, the creation of one of the world’s leading contemporary artists, John Grade.

Using salvaged Alaskan yellow cedar, Grade has created an intricately carved sculpture (15’ x 38’ x 42’) that represents a pingo, a hill of ice that grows over centuries in the Arctic’s highest latitudes, then collapses, pockmarking the tundra. This sculpture simulates a pingo in Alaska’s Noatak National Preserve, mapped by the artist using photogrammetry. Visitors will not only witness the pingo’s impressive scale, but will be able to enter inside the sculpture as its walls open and close, mimicking the pingo’s life cycle.

The exhibition is being staged in collaboration with Anchorage Museum, where it will permanently reside following its tour. Grade first became aware of pingos when he traveled to the Alaskan Arctic three years ago as part of Anchorage Museum’s Polar Lab residency for artists. Grade used a team of 20 artisans over a five-month period in his Seattle studio to create the sculpture. It will take a crew of eight to install it in the Collins Gallery of the Thompson Exhibition Building, including a mechanical engineer.

“This is an experience more than an exhibition,” said Museum President Steve White. “Given the capacity of the new Collins Gallery, we had the opportunity to think of exhibitions that could capitalize on the space and to embrace non-traditional, contemporary work. Murmur will be unlike anything we have ever shown at the Museum.”

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Grade, of Seattle, has teamed with New Media Artist Reilly Donovan to bring a mixed reality experience for visitors to Murmur. Using Microsoft’s HoloLens Mixed Reality technology, visitors wearing a wireless HoloLens headset will see themselves within a holographic representation – one using visual images and spatialized sound of a precise geographic location 80 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

The title Murmur evokes both the sound of Arctic wind and the shapes made by flocks of Arctic birds in flight called murmurations. The installation will provide an experience in which people can virtually explore the interior of a pingo’s ice core and the unusual textures, flora and fauna of the land form.

“I thought it would be very interesting to compare these two phenomena that happen in such different time scales,” Grade said, “one so ephemeral and the other so slow. To try to put a viewer inside each of those things, which is a place none of us literally are ever going to go. What would it feel like, merging them together?”

Murmur: Arctic Realities is open through April 22, 2018 (Earth Day), during regular museum hours. In addition to the exhibition itself, there are scheduled talks by both Grade and Donovan, the opportunity to take a yoga class with renowned instructor Coral Brown within the exhibition, and other programs related to the piece. Visit our online calendar for the full schedule. Use #wearethemurmur #arcticrealities on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Related Programs

Members Only: Artist Talk with John Grade
Contemporary artist John Grade will lead members on an exclusive walk-through of Mystic Seaport’s new exhibit, Murmur: Arctic Realities before it opens to the public. Grade will discuss his inspiration and the process he utilized to craft this innovative, kinetic sculpture of the Arctic land form called pingo. Members will be able to meet the artist and tour the sculpture with Grade before the exhibit opens to the public at 10 a.m. January 20.

Murmur: Tech Talk with New Media Artist Reilly Donovan
Join us for a talk and presentation by new media artist Reilly Donovan, designer of the mixed reality experience in the new exhibition, Murmur: Arctic Realities. Donovan works with emerging technology to produce interactive installations, virtual reality artworks and augmented reality exhibits. His work explores how computer simulations, machine learning, and interactive environments challenge the boundaries of our senses. January 20.

Seaport After Seven: Party at the Pingo
Embrace the season with Party at the Pingo, the inaugural event in the new Seaport After Seven party series. Guests will have exclusive access to Murmur: Arctic Realities, a vast kinetic sculpture of a “pingo,” by contemporary artist John Grade. Enjoy arctic cocktails, dancing, a DJ and classic games – upsized in a re-envisioned Thompson Exhibition Building lobby! It will be a night at the Museum that you’ll never forget. February 2.

Murmur Yoga with Coral Brown
Join world-renowned yoga instructor Coral Brown in the Museum’s newest exhibition, Murmur: Arctic Realities. She will guide a grounding yet dynamic all-levels vinyasa yoga class. February 10 and March 3.

Murmur Business After Hours with Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT
Join Mystic Seaport and the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut for a Business After Hours in the Museum’s newest exhibition, Murmur: Arctic Realities. Enjoy food and beverages as you experience the mixed reality art installation. February 21.

About Mystic Seaport

Mystic Seaport is the nation’s leading maritime museum. Founded in 1929, the Museum is home to four National Historic Landmark vessels, including the Charles W. Morgan, America’s oldest commercial ship and the last wooden whaleship in the world. The Museum’s collection of more than two million artifacts includes more than 500 historic vessels and one of the largest collections of maritime photography in the country. The Thompson Exhibition Building provides a state-of-the-art gallery to host compelling, world-class exhibitions, including the upcoming Murmur: Arctic Realitiesopening January 20, 2018. The Collections Research Center at Mystic Seaport provides scholars and researchers from around the world access to the Museum’s renowned archives. Mystic Seaport is located one mile south of Exit 90 off I-95 in Mystic, CT. Admission is $28.95 for adults ages 15 and older and $18.95 for children ages 4-14. Museum members and children three and younger are admitted free. For more information, please visit https://mysticseaport.wpengine.com/  and follow Mystic Seaport on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Instagram.