The Explorers Club

Explorer or adventurer? Traveller, historian or curious…  The Explorer’s Club welcomes you all – although you have to achieve something seriously scientific to become a member. Like land on the moon, or discover the North Pole, or be like Robin Bell, who has just led a major expedition to explore the last unknown mountain range on Earth, the Gamburtsev Mountains in Antarctica — completely covered with ice — where her Team discovered that water hidden beneath the ice sheet runs uphill. Discoveries like these can be read about in the paper or watched on television, but when you get a chance to actually meet the woman who led the team, or run into Buzz Aldron or stand around the same globe as did the captains of the Kon-Tiki expedition, then what an opportunity is that?!

Visiting the club is like visiting an archeological dig of the history of NY – or the discoveries of the world. The clubhouse on east 70th street was originally the home of Stephen Clark who was the grandson of the co-founder of the Singer Sewing machine company. He spent his inheritance well. The house features all polished timber with winding staircases, a 16th century Italian marble fireplace and a columned terrace. These columns are from a French Middle-Ages monastery and match those at the Cloisters at the top end of Manhattan – there were too many for the terrace so Clark gave the rest away. When the Club purchased the mansion in the 60’s treasures of the world came with them. The curator has painstakingly organized all the archives of the club, so that even the application forms of members are kept. Roosevelt’s lists on his under ‘previous employment’ as Governor of the State of New York, and President of the United States. There are copies of National Geographic from 1897. One of the paintings on the staircase, a scene from the camp of an Arctic exploration in 1881, and which was stranded on the ice for two years, is painted on the back of explorer Greely’s apron. The painter ran out of canvas. Then there is the trophy room with a mammoth’s tusk, and the very rare chronicles recording the discoveries made by Bonaparte from his scientific and military expedition to Egypt in 1798. Wandering through the club, you hear the members talking from the past – Dr Livingston I presumeOne small step for mankindThrow me the whip!

The Club does not look backwards. The current president is a woman, Faanya Rose, known for her conservation work. Research grants are given annually and with much success. Twenty two new species were discovered last year, including one mammal. Who says there is nothing new to discover? There are a couple of Fitzgeralds in the member’s archives, and maybe it is time there was a new one…

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This entry was posted in art & inspiration, Museums, travel, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Explorers Club

  1. Pauline Ley says:

    Thanks Gabrielle! Love your blog; always interesting. Often send it to friends who live in NY.
    Keep up the good work for old Melburnians who appreciate that you share your life with us.

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