Guests to Alaska's largest city often visit the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, located on C Street in the downtown core. The museum is the largest such facility in Alaska and one of the top 10 most-visited attractions in the state. With a mission to "connect people, expand perspectives, and encourage global dialogue about the North and its distinct environment," the Anchorage Museum offers a variety of permanent and traveling exhibits that appeal to a wide range of ages.
Of particular interest to many visitors are details surrounding Arctic regions of the Circumpolar North, in particular, Alaska. Places like Shishmaref, Nome, Barrow, Point Hope. Animals live here, like caribou, foxes, whales, and polar bears, a species particularly threatened by changes in Arctic sea ice.
The exhibit "View From Up Here; The Arctic at the Center of the World" strives to explain, connect, and inspire anyone, resident or visitor, with what has happened in the Arctic, and what is happening now.
The Anchorage Museum is hosting this international contemporary exhibition to highlight investigations into the intricacies of space, people, and place through a variety of media. Film, photographs, sculpture, and installations that are guaranteed to put questions in your mind and feelings in your heart are on display. A few exhibits are even outdoors, like the Food Forest, a sculpture with edible plants that will be eventually harvested later in the summer.
Arctic regions are not as remote as they might seem visually. Touched by human progress and infrastructure that comes in the form of oil production, military presence, and other forms of resource development, the Arctic and its people and animals are in an interesting state of flux. The exhibits are haunting reminders of the change that is already in progress, and questions are asked about how, and if, humanity should intervene.
The Polar Lab looks deeper at the Arctic; today, yesterday, and tomorrow, and pairs well with the Alaska Native Cultures exhibit, an interactive walk through the unique tribes featured in the Arctic Studies Center. On a long-term loan from the Smithsonian Institution, guests can see clothing, tools, and regions occupied by these individuals for centuries.
Other Museum Highlights
On the museum's second floor, visitors should make sure to see the Alaska Gallery, a 15,000 square-foot space dedicated to presenting history and ethnology of Alaska's different lifestyles and cultures. Walking between the past and future, guests will get to know major events that shaped the Alaska of today.
Young people visiting the Anchorage Museum will not want to miss the popular Imaginarium Discovery Center, an 80-exhibit space for children of any age. Traveling with an infant or toddler? Play trains or allow babies to wiggle on the soft floor spaces just for them. Interested in physics or space? The air cannon and heat monitor are always a hit. Don't miss the volcano and earthquake exhibits, either, as both are integral to the formation of and life in Alaska. The Imaginarium staff is well-equipped to explain each exhibit and ask the important questions to encourage kids to think outside the box of school-year learning.
Regular "Discovery Talks" are scheduled throughout the week, and summer brings day camp opportunities to further enrich the lives of future scientists.
Especially after viewing exhibits showcasing change in Alaska, it is important to develop a sense of what Alaska has been since humans first inhabited its vast landscape thousands of years prior. Allow at least two hours to fully explore the museum, more if you'd like to receive a docent tour, visit the gift shop for excellent representations of Alaska Native art, or have a meal in the Muse, the museum's on-site restaurant.
GoTip: Pair up your Alaska Museum visit with a companion visit to the Alaska Native Heritage Center with a Culture Pass. With free transportation to either facility provided, it's an excellent way to see both attractions.