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Gregor Sailer: The Polar Silk Road photography exhibition opening at the Natural History Museum

Artist and photographer Gregor Sailer’s first UK exhibition The Polar Silk Road will open at the Natural History Museum in London from 26 May 2023

Melting Arctic Sea ice is opening a channel known as ‘The Polar Silk Road’. Paired with opportunities for trade and access to oil and gas extraction, conflicts are already beginning to arise over ownership and access to this newfound treasure. Gregor Sailer’s new exhibition opening at the Natural History Museum from 26 May 2023, documents our complex relationship with the environment, the wide-reaching impacts of climate change and a rapidly changing world. 

In his UK debut, acclaimed Austrian artist and photographer Gregor Sailer showcases 67 images of manmade structures captured across four countries in the Arctic circle. From isolated research centres to Icelandic geothermal power stations, Gregor documents the changes taking place across the Arctic as people increasingly build on, exploit and research it. 

The free exhibition showcases 67 photographs and a short film featuring Gregor’s working practice and how his work is shaped by the wide-spread impacts of climate change.

Artist and photographer Gregor Sailer says; ‘Global warming and its impacts in the Arctic is a topical issue that affects us all, even if it is geographically far away. 

‘This northern-most region of the world has been profoundly affected by the climate crisis, making scientific research there more urgent.

‘Through collaboration with the Natural History Museum, I hope my work helps to translate this discussion, which is geopolitically, scientifically and socially very complex, not only in terms of content, but also visually.’

Five countries border the Arctic Ocean, and three maritime routes allow a crossing of the Arctic Ocean, depending on the season and the extent of the ice cover. The melting of the sea ice is set to create a shorter trade route in the future, providing access to new raw material deposits (natural gas and oil). 

As temperatures rise in the Arctic; animals, plants, and indigenous communities become increasingly under threat with wider impacts on a global level. Natural History Museum scientists are conducting important research into humanity's impact in this region.

Natural History Museum Director of Public Programmes Alex Burch says: ‘We are thrilled to announce a breathtaking new exhibition of work by photographer Gregor Sailer. This display prompts us to not only think about how climate change is affecting the Arctic but also the worldwide impacts that can be observed across the globe. 

The Museum is working to help build our understanding of what this might mean for biodiversity, and we hope that by bringing together art and science, this exhibition can transport and inspire people to become advocates for our planet.’

The Polar Silk Road is at the Natural History Museum’s Jerwood Gallery from 26 May 2023 with entry free of charge and is the second in a series of art installations as part of the Art Programme and Our Broken Planet programme. The exhibition proceeds The Lost Rhino an installation curated by artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg which closes on 19 March 2023.

The exhibition is supported by Jerwood Foundation, Austrian Cultural Forum London and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, the Civil Service and Sport.


Press office contact 
Tel: 07799690151   

Email: press@nhm.ac.uk  
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The Natural History Museum, London has been selected as one of five finalists for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2023, the world’s largest museum prize.

The Natural History Museum is both a world-leading science research centre and the most-visited indoor attraction in the UK last year. With a vision of a future in which both people and the planet thrive, it is uniquely positioned to be a powerful champion for balancing humanity’s needs with those of the natural world.  

It is custodian of one of the world’s most important scientific collections comprising over 80 million specimens accessed by researchers from all over the world both in person and via over 30 billion digital data downloads to date. The Museum’s 350 scientists are finding solutions to the planetary emergency from biodiversity loss through to the sustainable extraction of natural resources.

The Museum uses its global reach and influence to meet its mission to create advocates for the planet - to inform, inspire and empower everyone to make a difference for nature. We welcome millions of visitors through our doors each year, our website has had 17 million visits in the last year and our touring exhibitions have been seen by around 20 million people in the last 10 years.  

Jerwood Foundation was established in 1977 by Alan Grieve CBE for John Jerwood MC (1918-1991). The Foundation is part of a family of philanthropic organisations, that includes Jerwood Charity and Jerwood Space, and are united in their commitment to support, nurture and reward excellence and dedication in the visual and performing arts. Since 1991 Jerwood has channelled just under £110 million in capital and revenue funding in support of the arts in the UK www.jerwood.org

Gregor Sailer (born 1980) is a photographer working in the fields of art and architecture. His work explores how buildings and structures can represent economic, political and social ideas, and he often creates images in remote or hard to access locations.  

Sailer’s works have won multiple awards and have been shown nationally and internationally in solo and group exhibitions, including in New York, Arles, Milan, Vienna, Prague, Berlin and Budapest. Many of his photo series have been published as photo books, most recently, The Polar Silk Road, Unseen Places and The Potemkin Village. He lives and works in Tyrol, Austria, and this is the first time his photographs have been shown in the UK.

The Austrian Cultural Forum London, the Cultural Section of the Austrian Embassy, promotes cultural contacts between the UK and Austria by organising events and supporting artists and projects in the fields of music, performing arts, visual arts, literature, film and science. We provide a venue in central London for recitals, lectures, readings, film screenings, conferences and exhibitions, while also cooperating with various partners throughout the UK.

The Austrian Cultural Forum Website: www.acflondon.org

Waltraud Dennhardt-Herzog, Director, Austrian Cultural Forum London says;  

‘Humanity’s desire to force itself onto untouched areas of our natural world is like a primal instinct which has always been present. 

The question is how we go about this. Will it be an organic and peaceful process? Or an assault on nature that will have repercussions for all of us?’