The Franklin Exploration

May 2, 2018 to January 6, 2019

Join us as we reawaken one of the largest manhunts in Canadian history: the search for the lost ships of the Franklin Expedition, an Arctic venture that went horribly wrong 170 years ago.

The ROM’s interactive pop-up display, The Franklin Exploration, is your source for learning about this incredible story as it evolves in real time. Consisting of exhibit panels and touch screens with digital media presentations, the pop-up display puts the mysteries of Franklin’s tragic voyage into a historical context of science and exploration. It looks at reasons behind the expedition and clues from early search efforts, and connects you to contemporary Arctic investigation, presenting the methodologies and findings of ongoing scientific research in Canada's North.

The story of the Franklin Expedition has inspired folk songs and travel writing for over a century began in 1845, when British explorer Sir John Franklin set forth on a much-heralded Arctic expedition in pursuit of new scientific knowledge and hoping to find the Northwest Passage. Outfitted with two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, and a crew of 134 men, the Franklin expedition was, at the time, the best-equipped mission to venture into the Arctic waters. But three years later, Franklin, his crew, and his two ships still hadn’t returned home, prompting countless search efforts and capturing international attention.

The world’s fascination with this maritime riddle has only grown since the historic discovery of HMS Erebus in 2014, and most recently HMS Terror in 2016. Current archaeological excavation of the wreckage promises to expand our knowledge of the North, of the ocean, and of Franklin’s grisly fate.

This nationwide display which is on view at the ROM and nine other venues across Canada, is the cornerstone of The Franklin Network Outreach Project, an innovative three-year initiative helmed by the ROM, in collaboration with Parks Canada and the History Museums Network. The ROM and its partners will showcase cutting-edge technology and remarkable findings about the Franklin Expedition through special events, topical lectures, and inspired public programming.

The Franklin Network

Over the next three years, The Franklin Network Outreach Project will bring fascinating material to museums from coast to coast, sharing underwater excavations, traditional Inuit knowledge, and exciting new discoveries. During this time, some of the Franklin Network members will execute outreach work and move their pop-up displays to different locations and cities. For the latest locations across Canada, search for The Franklin Exploration by using the map below!


All photos copyright Parks Canada unless otherwise stated

What happens on land?

What tools are used in underwater archaeology?

What was found?


Finding HMS Erebus

Ship's Bell from HMS Erebus


Partners and Sponsors

Partners and Sponsor logos of the Franklin Network Outreach Project


Comment by Judy

Please tell me the dates of this exhibition. I will be in the Toronto area in early April. Will this exhibit still be on? Thank you.

Comment by dale ginsler

i would like to know the dates for this exhibit; i can't find it on the page. i have a keen interest in this history!

Comment by Lead Concierge

The Franklin exhibition is a pop up display case which rotates displays.  It is ongoing for now with no end date posted.  Please visit our website for updates.

Comment by David Faulkner

Your Franklin display is fascinating. I am visiting Toronto in July and I' m lookig forward to seeing this and your other displays in person.

Comment by Barbara Smatlanek

Greetings ... is the ranklin Exhibit permamnent. Will I still be able to view the Exhibit in October.THank you

Comment by Lead Concierge

Great question! “The Franklin Exploration” is part of a 3 year project initiated by a joint partnership between the ROM and PCA. A network of 10 Canadian museums, including the ROM, will have access to the pop-up display during this period.

Comment by Mary Williams

We have a ROM Membership and can't wait to see this exhibit - such an interesting story!! How long will this be at the ROM? Thanks - Mary

Comment by Lead Concierge

The Franklin pop-up will run from approximately March 2016 until March 2019.  However, it will not be on display for the months of July and August 2017.  



Comment by David Montgomery

In one of her most brilliant essays, Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Dillard juxtaposes Franklin's ill-fated exploration of the North and her experience of a Roman Catholic folk mass. Neither group, she contends, were adequately prepared for the their journieys, nor "sufficiently sensible of conditiions." Well researched and delightfully written, "An Expedition to the Pole" (in Teaching A Stone To Talk,1983, and The Abundance, 2016) offers wonderful insights into humanity's earnest yet flawed attempts to achieve transcendence. The essay would be great asset for an exhbition of Franklin artifacts.

Comment by Barbara Musgrave

I am not sure I follow. Is this an on-line exhibition or are we to come to the ROM. Please advise as I am very interested in this. Thanks so much.

Comment by MARTa Lynne Gill

I’m heading to Beechey Island with Adventure Canada in August to pay our respects to the first three casualties of Franklin’s expedition. I’d like to know the best exhibits to see and where . I live north east of Toronto !

Comment by Lead Concierge

Hello Marta,

We currently have on display in our Gallery of Canada, an interactive display on the Franklin Exploration. For exhibits across the country, I encourage you to explore the Franklin Network Map in the article above.