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Monday November 7, 2016

The next edition of the Virginia Museum of Natural History’s 2016-17 “2nd Thursday Science Talks” series takes place Thursday, November 10 at 6 p.m., when Dr. Joe Keiper, executive director of VMNH, presents “Matthew Henson: The first man at ninety degrees north latitude”.  Admission to the presentation is free thanks to the Virginia Museum of Natural History Foundation.

Henson reached the North Pole in April of 1909, an era of harrowing exploration. At that time, men traveled the globe in search of new specimens and artifacts, while exploring lands from the tropics to the desolate ice fields.  However, 90 degrees north latitude had not yet been conquered.

Henson not only was the first man to the North Pole, he did so during a time when the work of African Americans was largely unrecognized.  Keiper’s presentation will explore Henson’s life, his associate Commander Robert Peary, and the methods and science behind his early 20th century accomplishment at the top of the world.

"At the turn of the century, reaching the North Pole was to be done using traditional techniques of the Inuit, and Henson engaged in a tough struggle to be the first to reach it," said Keiper.  "This presentation will not only bring to light such an extraordinary accomplishment that was mistakenly credited to his associate Commander Peary because Henson was a black man, but also discuss the science of how it was possible."

Dr. Keiper began his duties as executive director of the Virginia Museum of Natural History in February 2010.  In addition to serving as executive director, Dr. Keiper serves as director of nature, science and planetaria for the Virginia Association of Museums.  Before joining VMNH, Dr. Keiper served as director of science and curator of invertebrate zoology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

"2nd Thursday Science Talks" take place on the second Thursday of each month from 6 to 7 p.m. from September through May.  Presentations are delivered by VMNH curators, research associates and collaborating scientists.  Geared towards audiences with a keen interest in science, the presentations also increase awareness of the varied and unique scientific career paths available for local students.

Tags: Martinsville, Virginia Museum of Natural History