Every event we’ve attended at The Explorer’s Club has left us feeling like we learned something new about brave new worlds in our well-traversed planet. Last week we attended the screening of VICE’s Far Out: Agafia’s Taiga Life, about the last remaining member of a family of Russian Old Believers who fled to Siberia’s vast taiga in 1936 to escape a life of persecution under Stalin. The family did not even know World War II had taken place until they were “discovered” by oil-seeking geologists in the late 1970s. Agafia was born in the Taiga in 1943, and VICE travels 160 miles into the Sayan Mountains to learn about her lifestyle and what she thinks of the “outside” world.
When we left The Explorers Club this time, a member was sitting at the entrance excitedly telling us to come back in a few days for another movie screening–an inclusivity you don’t normally experience at other member clubs. Located on the Upper East Side, the gothic building that houses The Explorer’s Club is filled with artifacts from explorations by its founders and members, including Teddy Roosevelt, Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, and Edmund Hillary. It’s hard to argue with a club with a mission statement and pedigree as follows:
The Explorers Club promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences. The Club’s members have been responsible for an illustrious series of famous firsts: First to the North Pole, first to the South Pole, first to the summit of Mount Everest, first to the deepest point in the ocean, first to the surface of the moon—all accomplished by our members. The Explorers Club mission is to advance field research, scientific exploration, resource conservation, and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore.
After the screening, we were given a tour of the club, all the way to its “summit” at 77 feet above sea level:
Just below the “summit” is one of the most interesting halls of the building, filled with stuffed wildlife rejected from the Museum of Natural History. To our untrained eye though, the animals heads, elephant tusks, and even a blue whale penis, were still impressive.
Inside the President’s office of The Explorer’s Club:
A quirky 4½ floor in The Explorer’s Club:
The President’s Corner at “the summit”:
On the second floor:
And do check out VICE’s latest FAR OUT documentary, Agafia’s Taiga Life.