On February 5, Atlas Obscura hosted guests at the Explorers Club, an international society and private clubhouse founded in 1904. A select group of attendees had the chance to wander the same halls and peruse the expansive collections of the club’s many illustrious members as part of the first ever overnight event for both the Explorers Club and Atlas Obscura. Guests gathered at 9 p.m. on Friday evening and departed at 9 a.m. the following morning.
Passing through different rooms and exhibits, the 50 guests had the chance to pore over such items as Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki Globe, a yeti scalp, a stuffed whale penis, Teddy Roosevelt’s membership application (in which he casually lists U.S. President under ‘Positions Held’) and the Explorers Club flag that was carried to the moon by astronauts onboard Apollo 11.
Throughout the evening, guests attended talks, tours, and film screenings led by all manners of adventurers. Arctic explorer Christine Dennison gave a presentation with her husband, acclaimed ocean explorer Tim Taylor, about a sunken World War II submarine they located using an underwater robot; space science strategist Kellie Gerardi spoke about her time spent in isolation at the Mars Desert Research Station and her work in promoting space travel; while New York Times journalist Nicholas Kulish talked about what it was like reporting off-the-grid in the world’s youngest country: South Sudan.
In an expansive chamber known as the Trophy Room, guests came face to snout with taxidermic animals from lions to narwhals, many of them the work of naturalist Carl Akeley, the father of modern taxidermy. From there, they could crawl into a tent lined with furs, and tune into Yeti Dreamscape, an immersive installation featuring footage from Edmund Hillary’s quest to find a mythological creature.
Drinks and foodstuffs were served, stories were shared, and curiosity was sated. One could sip wine and wander about the plushly carpeted floors, admiring the building’s ornate woodwork and the oil paintings lining the six flights of stairs. At 3 a.m, guests tried some of the Explorers Club special scotch; right afterward Atlas Obscura staffers led attendees in a rousing trivia hour devoted to historic expeditions. Throughout the evening, drowsy guests took naps on mattresses provided by Oso Mattress. Most people, however, were still awake at 5 a.m, and a good number of the guests persevered until breakfast.
It’s not easy to become a member of this prestigious club—past members include the first explorers to visit the North and South Poles, highest and lowest points on earth, and the Moon. But for one night, a handful of inquisitive folks were able to share in their captivating sense of discovery.