Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Explorers Club

 Oh, now here is a club that I wish I could get in to.  The Explorers Club was founded in New York City in May 1904 by a group of men active in exploration, at the request of Henry Collins Walsh.  It's aims were to "unite explorers in the bonds of good fellowship and to promote the work of exploration by every means in it's power".  It is an international multidisciplinary professional society whose members are committed to the scientific exploration of land, sea, air and space.  But membership is hard to come by.  For instance, amongst the accomplishments of it's members past and present are titles such as "first to the North Pole", "first to the South Pole", "first to the summit of Everest", "first to the deepest point in the ocean" and "first to the surface of the moon".  A daunting set of hats to hang one's own up alongside, I think you'll agree.

Their Headquarters, at 46 East 70th Street looks like the the club house for some sort of exclusive society from the start of the last century; which in essence, is exactly what it is.  The virtual tour on the club's website shows trophy rooms filled with the sort of artefacts and curiosities that should technically class the place as a museum.  Many of these Trophies are the taxidermied remains of beautiful and rare animals that these days many of us consider grotesque and unnecessary, but at the start of last century were considered necessary proof of a scientific discovery and a requirement in order to determine each new exotic discovery's place in the biological order of things.  But stuffed animals aside, who doesn't want to hang out in a place place with dark, wood panelled drawing rooms filled with wingback chairs, trinkets and curiosities, a place whose staircase is lined with portraits of famous explorers and which has a dedicated flag room.  I quite fancy the idea of turning up, ordering a drink and sitting down in between Indiana Jones and Jaques Cousteau.

The Trophy Room.

Roy Chapman Andrrews (1884-1960) personifies the typical 20th Century explorer.  He spent his entire career at the American Museum of Natural History, which he eventually became the director of, as well holding the presidency of the Explorers Club from 1931-1934.  He led five expeditions to Mongolia's Gobi desert and discovered the first ever fossil of a complete nest of dinosaur eggs.  And he wore a rad hat.

A few weeks ago, on March 16th at their annual Explorers Club Dinner, the Explorers Medal was awarded to filmmaker James Cameron (of Titanic and Avatar fame) for his 7 mile (11km) dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.  The annual dinner is famous for it's exotic menu which this year featured delicacies such as goats eye martini, pickled bull penis and strawberries dipped in white chocolate with black maggot sprinkles.  

All of a sudden, the local pub doesn't quite cut it does it?

All images courtesy of The Explorers Club apart from James Cameron, via National Geographic.

No comments:

Post a Comment