Polar research has a long tradition in Austria. 151 years ago, the expedition ship Admiral Tegetthoff set off on the "Austro-Hungarian North Polar Expedition" with the aim of exploring the Arctic Ocean and finding the Northeast Passage. However, the ship soon got stuck in the ice. Driven by the ice drift, the polar explorers Carl Weyprecht and Julius Payer discovered a group of islands, which they named after the emperor: Franz Josef Land. A few zoological objects brought back from this expedition are still kept in the NHM Vienna today. Carl Weyprecht developed fundamental theories for modern polar research based on the experiences of the expedition. Building on this, the "First International Polar Year" took place in 1882-1883; Austria participated with its own research station on the island of Jan Mayen.

Today, the Austrian Polar Research Institute (APRI) coordinates research and international co-operation in the field of polar science for Austria. In co-operation with the University of Graz, the first permanent Austrian polar research station was recently established in East Greenland. As a project partner of the NHM Vienna, polar researchers from the APRI are involved in the exhibition, are brought in front of the curtain and report on their main areas of research.

The unique nature of the Arctic, its fascination and vulnerability as well as the rapid changes in the Arctic regions form the thematic starting point of the exhibition. The clearly visible and measurable effects of climate change, as well as geopolitical changes, have brought the Arctic to the centre of global attention.
The exhibition "ARKTIS: Polar World in Transition" at the Natural History Museum Vienna sheds light on the many facets and roles of this unique ecosystem from different perspectives. It shows that the Arctic is more closely linked to the lives of all people today than ever before due to its crucial global role.

The exhibition will take place at the Natural History Museum Vienna from 8 November 2023 to 22 September 2024.

© NHM Vienna, A. Schumacherr