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The Nansen photographs

The Nansen photographs

The Fram Museum

The Nansen Photographs tells the story of Norwegian Arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his ground-breaking effort to reach the North Pole in the specially-designed polarship Fram. The story starts when the plan for the expedition was launched in 1890 and continues until the end of Nansen's international lecture tour in 1897. We see how Nansen selected the cameras for the expedition, and photographs and information about the cameras themselves supplement this part.

One chapter is dedicated to the early life of Nansen and another shows how the ideas for the expedition and the ship developed. We follow the construction of Fram through numerous letters between Nansen and the ship's designer and builder, Colin Archer, and five different sets of drawings of the vessel from the initial proposal to the final version are presented.

The main elements of the book are every single recovered photograph taken during the expedition together with personal diary entries from Nansen and seven of his crew members about the situation when the photographs were taken. This brings new life to previously known photographs and introduces the reader to hundreds of unknown photographs from the expedition. Due to the large format of the book, the smaller details in the photographs give new insight into the work and daily life on board, the equipment and the clothing.

Opposing diary entries from Nansen and the men about the same situations show that life on board was not always easy. Nansen's lack of empathy and practical skills caused frustration among the men, and several of them resorted to fists to sort out their differences.

When Nansen leaves the ship for his legendary 18 month journey with Hjalmar Johansen towards the North Pole and Franz Josef Land, we follow both Nansen and Johansen and the crew left on board through their photographs and diaries.

The return to Norway and the spectacular celebration along the entire Norwegian coast from Vardø in the north to K