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One Hundred Years On from the Fifth Thule Expedition – Crown Prince Frederik celebrates landmark anniversary

By Mogens Engelund - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Fifth Thule Expedition – one of the most impressive polar expeditions in history. 

The Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary Foundation is the patron of the anniversary celebration. They have supported the creation of this exhibition, which is why Crown Prince Frederik was present for the show’s inauguration on 17 September 2021. 

National Museum Director Rane Willerslev gave His Royal Highness a tour of the exhibition, which is just one part of the Nordlys Festival that has been organised to celebrate this event. 

After the tour concluded, the two men participated in a roundtable discussion on their own modern experiences of polar explorations – Crown Prince Frederik took part in a four-month expedition through the north of Greenland called “Expedition Sirius 2000” with the role of videographer, ensuring the best possible footage of the trip. 

The Nordlys Festival will offer lectures, debates, movies projections, theatre representations, workshops, music concerts and food courts through the weekend to give the public an insight into Arctic cultures, which was the primary objective of the original 5th Thule Expedition. 

The three-year expedition took place between 1921 and 1924 and was headed by Knud Rasmussen, a Greenlandic-Danish polar explorer and anthropologist. The journey took them from Greenland, across Arctic Canada, along the northern coast of Alaska, through the Bering Strait and finally to Eastern Siberia, where they had to stop because Rasmussen’s visa was refused. During those three years, Rasmussen and his team set out to discover the true origins of the Eskimo race, which resulted in a ten-volume account of the journey and the ethnographic, archaeological and biological data that was collected. 

Many artefacts that were part of that expedition’s evidence are still exposed in various museums through Denmark, with the majority having been borrowed by the Danish National Museum in Copenhagen for an exhibition celebrating this anniversary.