An emblematic figure of polar exploration, Jean Malaurie, has given a very large part of his collections, archives and personal effects, illustrating 70 years of a life devoted to the peoples of the Arctic to the Oceanographic Institute. It represents the most important donation that Jean Malaurie has made to any institution.

A part will be showcased from spring 2022 during the “Polar Mission” exhibition at the Oceanographic Museum, a year which will also mark the 100 years of the explorer. It was during a personal visit by HSH Prince Albert II to Jean Malaurie, on November 21, 2019, that the explorer mentioned his wish to bequeath his collections to the Principality of Monaco, in a place that would be able to to guarantee their promotion and the widest possible distribution.

Given the personality of the donor – at the intersection of explorer and researcher, like Prince Albert I, of whom Jean Malaurie is a great admirer – the Oceanographic Institute was proposed by HSH the Sovereign Prince to become the main custodian and manager of this donation.

The deed of gift was signed between Jean Malaurie and the Oceanographic Institute, represented by its Chairman of the Board of Directors, Professor Philippe Taquet, on November 19 in Dieppe. The collection consists of nearly 500 artifacts (personal archives, medals, decorations, etc.), 200 hours of recordings, nearly 5,000 photographs (prints and slides) and the sleigh of Sir Wally Herbert (1934-2007), the first conqueror of the Geographic North Pole.

“On this solemn day of the donation of my Arctic collections to the Oceanographic Institute – which will be scientifically supported by the Jean Malaurie Monaco-UVSQ Arctic Research Institute I have the great honour to celebrate this organisation of international arctic union in close alliance with the indigenous peoples of Siberia, Lapland, Greenland, Nunavik, Nunavut and Alaska. Respect for them and the nature that transcends them ”said Jean Malaurie.

A tripartite agreement was signed on November 26 at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco between Jean Malaurie, the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en Yvelines (UVSQ), represented by its president Alain Bui, and the Institut Oceanographic, represented by its Director General Robert Calcagno, in the presence of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.

“It is a source of pride that UVSQ is associated with the donation of the collections of Professor Jean Malaurie to the Oceanographic Institute of Monaco. Engaged for many years in the development of arctic studies, the role of UVSQ will be – through the Jean Malaurie Arctic Research Institute (IRAM), headed by Professor Jan Borm – the scientific promotion of these collections and research based on the world-renowned work of Professor Malaurie, ” said Alain Bui.

Part of Jean Malaurie’s collections will be exhibited for the first time in the “Mission Polaire” exhibition at the Oceanographic Museum from June 4, 2022. Among the 5 thematic spaces that will make up this new tour, one of ‘between them will invite the public to enter the world of the Inuit through the gaze of the geographer and ethnologist. Visitors will be able, among other things, to discover objects of daily Inuit life collected by Jean Malaurie during his missions such as kudlik (oil lamp), ulu (semi-lunar female knife) but also elements clothing, masks and fishing and hunting tools.

“We are delighted with this donation which enriches the collections of the Oceanographic Institute. We admire Professor Jean Malaurie, a great explorer of the Poles and a keen connoisseur of the peoples of the Arctic. This theme, which is dear to us, will be at the heart of our programming in 2022. Through the use of part of these collections, we will be able to make visitors to the Oceanographic Museum discover in a more meaningful way the peoples of the Arctic and the importance of this region, which is at the forefront of global warming,” said Professor Philippe Taquet, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Oceanographic Institute.

PHOTO: Alain Bui, HSH Prince Albert and Robert Calcagno