If you want a humbling reminder that our winters aren't that bad, or -- better yet -- a fascinating glimpse into Scandinavian history, consider spending a lunch hour browsing a new exhibit in the lobby of the AT&T Tower in downtown Minneapolis.

"Cold Recall -- Reflections of a Polar Explorer" tells through lantern slides and journal entries the stories behind Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen's expeditions through the Northwest Passage and to the South Pole. The exhibit was developed last year by the Fram Museum in Oslo, Norway, for the 100th anniversary of Amundsen's team being the first explorers to reach the South Pole in 1911. They reached it days before a British team led by Robert Scott, all of whom eventually died on the Antarctic continent.

The exhibit, on a national tour, was briefly at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport last year during a visit by the Norwegian king and queen, but only ticketed passengers could see it. When Gary Gandrud, the honorary consul general for the Norwegian Consulate here, heard that it was to be stored between its last exhibit in Grand Forks, N.D., and its next in Madison, Wis., he got permission for the panels to be mounted in the AT&T Tower lobby, 901 Marquette Av. S.

"We'd like to get the younger generation in here -- students, school classes," he said. It's a great way to experience a part of Scandinavian history," as well as world history.

The strength of the "Cold Recall" exhibit is in its details: the horseshoe nailed to the ship's mast for luck; the guiding watchwords, "Dogs first, and dogs all the time"; the celebration with a bit of seal meal, only to have a crew member pull out a box of cigars he'd carried from Norway.

From Amundsen's journal entry of Dec. 14, 1911: "Calm, so calm stretched the mighty plateau before us, unseen and untrod by the foot of man." Seen within weeks of the death of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, the exhibit is a look into how the lure to be first at a place unknown continues to fascinate.

The free exhibit is open to the public during regular lobby hours, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday  through Sunday, until Sept. 30.

Kim Ode • 612-673-7185