Tourism and sustainability have historically had a difficult relationship. Greenland is looking to change that with a new attraction that focuses on this delicate balance, exploring the impacts of climate change.
The Ilulissat Icefjord Center opened last year and overlooks a remote UNESCO-protected wilderness on the stunning west coast of Greenland near Disko Bay, located 155 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Designed by the Danish architect Dorte Mandrup, the twisted structure mimics the flight of a snow owl, representing the fragility of the surrounding fjords and landscapes.
The visitor center, open year-round, has a permanent exhibition, “Sermeq pillugu Oqaluttuaq—The Story of the Ice,” that delves into the history of Greenland’s ice sheet and Inuit who have lived in this harsh environment for thousands of years. Also part of the exhibit: a display of archaeological artifacts in prisms of glass designed to look like real blocks of ice.
A boardwalk leads from the center to various areas where one can view the Ilulissat ice fjord. The hope is that by learning about the dangers of a warming world in situ, tourists will go back with a deeper understanding of how and why this remote wilderness is vital to the survival of the planet.
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