snow goggles


Snow blindness is a perennial problem in the Arctic. Contrary to popular belief, the Arctic is in places a desert, with so little precipitation, rainfall and snowfall, that the ice remains undisturbed. The weak sunlight is reflected into a dazzling glare that not only confuses and disorients the human eye but can even cause permanent damage. For Inuit arctic_hunting|hunters, living before modern darkened glass and plastic were widely available, special googles were made of wood, bone or ivory. These snow goggles are an ancient design, broken examples can be found in Inuit archaeological sites more than a thousand years old, and they solved the problem by removing the excess glare. By shaping googles to fit to the human face, with very narrow viewing slits bored through the centre, and binding the googles with a hide strap, they narrow the field of vision to a tiny slit that cuts off the sun reflecting from the ice. This allows hunters and other travellers to focus on their prey or destination, without risking becoming lost or going hungry.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

If you have any further information about objects in our collections or can suggest corrections to our information, please contact us: