Texas Tech University

Last Chance: Ansel Adams, Antarctica Exhibits Closing in January

Heidi Toth

January 6, 2016

The two exhibits, the only ones of their kind in the region, are among the highlights of a visit to the Museum of Texas Tech University.

Anyone interested in Antarctica or the photography of Ansel Adams has just a couple more weeks to experience these two unique exhibits at the Museum of Texas Tech University.

“Ansel Adams: American Master, Selections from the David H. Arrington Collection” will close Jan. 17, and “Antarctica – Pioneering American Explorations of the Frozen Continent” will close Jan. 24.

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams
"The Tetons and the Snake River" by Ansel Adams

This exhibit includes 100 original photographs from Adams, the most well-known American landscape photographer. Curator of art Peter Briggs said thousands of people have viewed the exhibit since it opened in August.

“This may be the only opportunity to view firsthand a comprehensive range of original works of art by one of America's premier landscape artists of the last 100 years,” Briggs said. “This collection of art works by Ansel Adams is from a private collection, probably the largest private collection of Adams' work in the world. They may never be available again.

“This is the first and maybe the last chance to see these original works of art that have in so many ways defined the American landscape, especially the western American landscape.”

His favorite photograph, which he chose somewhat under protest – “there are so many classic, monumental, sublime images in this exhibition” – is the 1940s image of “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.” It's easily recognized, continues to define the Southwest and demonstrates Adams' artistic goal of capturing that moment with his camera.

Midland oil executive and Texas Tech alumnus David Arrington loaned the works to the museum. He started collecting the photographs after graduating in 1983 and now has more than 600 pieces. The first photo he bought was “Monolith, the Face of Half Dome.”

The museum has held a number of events surrounding the exhibit since August. The final event will be from 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday (Jan 12) at the museum. Alan Ross, the photographer's longtime assistant and an internationally recognized photographer, will discuss his experiences and stories working with Adams as well as letters Adams sent to him.


F Alton Wade
F. Alton Wade

Antarctica – Pioneering American Explorations of the Frozen Continent” highlights the work F. Alton Wade, a Horn professor and research associate at the museum, did in Antarctica before coming to Texas Tech and the Antarctic Research Center at the museum, which he created in 1971.

In 1933, Wade went to Antarctica for the first time as a geologist in the Second Byrd Expedition. That trip included a 77-day sled journey into the unmapped Marie Byrd Land on western Antarctica. He went back five more times in the next 20 years. While at Texas Tech he continued to play a significant role in furthering the research done at the South Pole.

“Few people realize Texas Tech's role in Antarctic exploration or that Antarctica is a desert,” said Eileen Johnson, director of academic and curatorial programs at the museum. “While it's a historical exhibit, it's also a fun exhibit.”

The exhibit includes almost 100 objects from the museum's collection, including fossils, a mummified seal, a reconstructed base camp that would sit atop a glacier, Wade's early broadcasts from Antarctica to the United States, a 3-D printed turtle soup can from an early food stash and some interactive areas.

The exhibit is in the main gallery of the museum and almost impossible to miss, so thousands of visitors have explored it since its opening in January 2015.

The museum is located at 3301 4th St. It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Briggs encouraged visitors to not wait until the last day of the exhibits, as he anticipates the museum will be very busy.