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Joan Myers: Wondrous Cold, An Antarctic Journey


Summary Note

Joan Myers received an Antarctic Artists and Writers Program grant from the National Science Foundation that allowed her to spend three months photographing scientific study and daily life at McMurdo Station. Materials include research materials, journals, maps, documents, grant applications, correspondence, press materials, and Antarctic and NSF ephemera.

Biographical Note

Joan Myers was born in 1944 in Des Moines, Iowa, and had an early interest in the sciences and mathematics. At Stanford University, her concentration on Renaissance and baroque music performance led to a B.A in 1966 and a M.A. in musicology in 1967. In the early 1970's Ms. Myers turned to photography. Myers developed many projects in the years that followed that resulted in exhibitions and accompanying books.

In 1982, Joan Myers received a NEA/Museum of New Mexico Survey grant to photograph the Santa Fe Trail, a project that resulted in a SITES three-year exhibit tour and a book, "Along the Santa Fe Trail". In 1983-1985, she photographed the Japanese Relocation Camps from the 1940s; a SITES exhibit tour began in 1996, accompanied by a book, "Whispered Silences". In 1988-1989, she photographed the medieval pilgrimage route across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela. A book entitled "Santiago: Saint of Two Worlds" was published by the University of New Mexico Press in 1991, and the exhibit was toured by the Albuquerque Museum. Joan Myers' book, "Salt Dreams: Land and Water in Low-Down California", a ten-year photographic study of the Salton Sea in southern California with text by William deBuys, was published by University of New Mexico Press in 1999 and won the Western States Book Award for non-fiction. Also in 1999, Ms. Myers completed a series "Western Power" for the National Millennium Survey directed by James Enyeart at the College of Santa Fe. In 2001 Ms. Myers' book "Pie Town Woman" was published by University of New Mexico Press and received an award for Best Illustrated Trade Book from the Publishers Association of the West. In 2002, the National Science Foundation awarded Joan Myers an Antarctic Artists and Writer's Grant to photograph at McMurdo Station, surrounding field stations, historic huts, and the South Pole during the 2002-2003 austral summer. A SITES (Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service) show entitled "Wondrous Cold: an Antarctic Journey" which began touring in May 2006, accompanied by a book published by Smithsonian Books.

Currently, she maintains her residence and studio near Santa Fe, New Mexico, and teaches workshops throughout the country.

Scope and Content

Joan Myers visited the Antarctic three times on private tours beginning in 2001 before receiving an Antarctic Artists and Writers Program grant from the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs. The NSF grant allowed her to spend three months, from October 2002 through January 2003, photographing scientific study and daily life at McMurdo Station. She also explored the interior of the continent by plane, ship, helicopter and snowmobile. While away from McMurdo base, she spent some time photographing on a Coast Guard icebreaker, at the South Pole, at field stations in the Dry Valleys and from the top of Mt. Erebus, an active volcano. In subsequent years she visited the Antarctic region with Quark Expeditions.

These trips resulted in a book and traveling exhibition titled "Wondrous Cold: An Antarctic Journey", which premiered at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History on May 17, 2006 and ended at the Nevada Museum of Art in early 2011, whereupon the exhibition photographs entered its Altered Landscape collection. The archive consists of materials generated through initial and continued research and the previously mentioned activities. Materials include research materials, journals, maps, documents, grant applications, correspondence, press materials, and Antarctic and NSF ephemera.


The archive is arranged in 3 series organized by subject.
  • Series 1: Research
  • Series 2: Voyages/NSF
  • Series 3: Project Outcomes and Press

Inclusive Dates


Bulk Dates


Quantity / Extent

.5 cubic feet


English, Russian, German

Related Archive Collections

  • CAE1042: Lita Albuquerque: Stellar Axis, Antarctica
  • CAE1107: Stephen Eastaugh: Antarctic Work
  • CAE1112: Simon Balm: Stellar Axis: Antarctica
  • CAE1116: Chris Drury: Antarctica
  • CAE1117: William L. Fox: Terra Antarctica
  • CAE1202: David Rosenthal: Paintings of the North and South Polar Regions
  • CAE1217: Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid: Ice Music
  • CAE1218: Jean de Pomereu: Antarctic Work
  • CAE1219: Stuart Klipper: The Antarctic, From the Circle to the Pole
  • CAE1307: Chris Kannen: An Antarctic Extended Season
  • CAE1605: Anna McKee: 68,000 Years of Ice
  • CAE1806: Bruce Licher: Stamping Antarctica
  • CAE1910: Helen Glazer: Walking in Antarctica

Related Publications

Andrews, Lynne. Antarctic Eye: The Visual Journey. Mount Rumney Tasmania, Australia: Studio One, 2007.

Fox, William L. Terra Antarctica: Looking into the Emptiest Continent. San Antonio, TX: Trinity University Press, 2005.

Myers, Joan. Salt Dreams: Land and Water in Low-down California. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1999.

Myers, Joan. Wondrous Cold: An Antarctic Journey. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service; Smithsonian Books, 2006.

Porter, Eliot. Antarctica. New York, NY: Dutton, 1978.

Rowell, Galen A. Poles Apart: Parallel Visions of the Arctic and Antarctic. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995.

University of Wyoming Art Museum. Antarctica. Laramie, WY: University of Wyoming Art Museum, 2007.

CAE S-Box 23 1#1 London Times, Newspaper, 2001

Container Listing by Series:

CAE1103/1 Series 1: Research, 2001-2010

Series 1 includes materials created in generation of the project and Myers’ visit to Antarctica.
  • CAE Box 12

    • 1-1 Antarctic Research, 2001-2008
    • 1-2 Antarctic Related Literature, 2001-2010
    • 1-3 Correspondence and Contacts, 2001-2006

CAE1103/2 Series 2: Voyages/NSF, 1997-2004

Series 2 includes materials generated during Myers’ visits to Antarctica
  • CAE Box 12

    • 2-1 Antarctic Travel-Stanford Alumni Assoc., Jan. 2001, 1997-2001
    • 2-2 Antarctic Travel-Zegrahm Expeditions, Nov. 2001, 2000-2002
    • 2-3 Antarctic Travel-Aurora Expeditions, Feb. 2002, 2002-2003
    • 2-4 NSF Grant Application, 2001-2003
    • 2-5 NSF Correspondence, 1999-2004
    • 2-6 NSF Support Package, 2002
    • 2-7 NSF Packing List and Notes, 2002
    • 2-8 NSF Welcome Pack, 2002
    • 2-9 NSF Logistics, 2002-2003
    • 2-10 NSF Journals, 2001-2003
    • 2-11 NSF Program and Antarctic Ephemera, 1999-2002
    • 2-12 Antarctic Travel-Quark Expeditions, Jan. 2003, 2002-2003
    • 2-13 Antarctic Travel-Quark Expeditions, Nov. 2004, 2004

Additional Materials

  • CAE Box 14 Small Objects

    • 2-11#1 Antarctica Orca Pencil, 2002 – 2003
    • 2-11#2 Antarctica Penguin Pen, 2002 – 2003
    • 2-11#3 South Face of Mt Erebus, Key Ring, 2002 – 2003
    • 2-11#4 Volcanic Rhyolite Rock, not dated
    • 2-13#2 Quark Expeditions Pen, 2004

CAE1103/3 Series 3: Project Outcomes and Press, 1999-2011

Series 3 contains materials related to the outcomes of the project including exhibition ephemera, publication, educational materials and press materials.
  • CAE Box 12

    • 3-1 SITES Exhibition, 2004-2008
    • 3-2 SITES Education and Promotional Resource Manual, 2002-2007
    • 3-3 Book Correspondence, Research, and Production, 2002-2010
    • 3-4 Correspondence with Sandra Blakeslee, 1999-2005
    • 3-5 Exhibition Ephemera, 2003-2011
    • 3-6 Press, 2002-2011