The summer is so hot and muggy. I needed a place where I could cool off. So I went to Antarctica.
Fortunately, Antarctica is very conveniently located, at least for the next couple of weeks.
It's in downtown Ontario, in fact, at the Museum of History and Art.
That's the site of "Wondrous Cold: An Antarctic Journey," a remarkable photographic exhibit that continues through Aug. 31.
I'm not kidding, I drove over there on one of those sticky icky days when your shirt sticks to your back and the steering wheel is too hot to touch and you feel smothered and oppressed, and cross and bothered.
But then I entered the museum, and I found myself in a maze of air-conditioned rooms filled with the spectacular photographs of Joan Myers, who spent the winter of 2002-'03 exploring Earth's coldest continent.
I studied an image of glacial caves filled with pillars of blue ice, and the temperature in the room seemed to drop by several degrees.
I admired a photo of Emperor penguins, my favorite kind, huddled on an endless expanse of blinding white snow, and I honestly felt goosebumps forming on my neck and arms.
I gazed at images of mighty mountains of rock buried beneath even mightier mountains of ice and snow, and I swear I could see my breath coming out as steam.
I shivered and rubbed my arms.
It's wonderful, the way museums allow us to journey like this to faraway places, and enjoy the extraordinary discoveries we make there.
The Inland Empire is stuffed silly with museums. In fact, we have about 100 of them. I know, because I have compiled a master list of them, with inspiration and assistance from reader George Morris, whom I gratefully acknowledge and thank.
You'll find a copy of the list on my blog at www.sbsun.com/johnweeks.
The list includes large, general-interest museums like the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands and the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. And there are specialized museums such as the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino and the Western America Railroad Museum in Barstow. And there are quirky, charming museums like the Historical Glass Museum in Redlands and the McDonald's/Route 66 Museum in San Bernardino.
If you're looking for a museum exhibit that is perfect for summertime, you can't do better than "Wondrous Cold," which draws its name from a line in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's epic poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner":
And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.
The exhibit features 50 photographs, both color and black-and-white, which show Antarctica like few people ever have seen it before.
Myers, the photographer, also has documented the Salton Sea in a previous exhibit and book titled "Salt Dreams: Land and Water in Low-Down California."
"Wondrous Cold" is presented by the Museum of History and Art with support from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum will host a "Summer Chill Out" event with interactive crafts and other family activities, from noon to 4 p.m. on Aug. 23. The exhibit ends Aug. 31.
The museum is at 225 S. Euclid Ave., just south of the 10 Freeway in Ontario. Hours are noon-4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. Admission is free. Call (909) 983-3198 or visit online at www.ci.ontario.ca.us.
John Weeks is features editor. Read his past columns and blogs at sbsun.com/johnweeks. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.