A few hours at the Anchorage Museum and we quickly discovered that Alaska is much more than the awe-inspiring grandeur of its scenery and the immense array of wildlife. It’s home to people with stories of discovery and hardship, struggle and success, of economy, culture, and wonder.
As we continue our travels around the world, we are often surprised to discover somewhere so completely different, yet so familiar. Alaska is the USA, yet it has a history all its own, and we have found no better place to learn about it than the Anchorage Museum.
Alaska Oil Pipeline
For instance, check out this cross-section of the Alaska oil pipeline, which is one of the seven wonders of the United States (a list I didn’t even know existed before today). Imagine the engineering feat to build and bury this massive pipeline during the cold Alaskan winter. Step by step we followed the display and saw how it was done.
Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska
We learned about Alaskan history as we walked through Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska.
Hubby tends to gravitate towards all things technical and scientific (this is what happens when you marry a rocket scientist). He also is a coffee connoisseur, and this old coffee grinder was like a magnet calling him.
The museum is also filled with culture and tradition. The tallest totem pole we have seen to date greeted us in the atrium. This Tlingit totem pole was carved in the 1800s.
“This exhibition places these masterworks of the past in the context of people’s lives today. Many of these artefacts were produced a century ago. It’s all about continuity of the meanings and knowledge held in these pieces. ” Aron Crowell, Director of the Arctic Studies Center’s Alaska office and curator of the exhibition “Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska.
Imaginarium Discovery Center
We didn’t just look; we also had some fun. One of the really enjoyable sections of the museum was the Imaginarium Discovery Center. While we often see these in museums, there was something about the way this one was presented that seemed to appeal to all ages. All around the Imaginarium we saw adults, teens and small children trying out the displays and learning at their own level.
Even the bubble makers were set up for all ages. At least our teen thought so as she encased herself in a giant bubble:
And, since we are in Alaska, you know there will be wildlife, like this musk ox.
The real highlight for me comes without photos to share here. It is the planetarium. There are three different shows available, and we chose to see the Northern Lights. Wow. It was truly a display of grandeur. Northern lights are only seen in the winter, and I doubt I will ever return to Alaska in winter. Right now, we have 24-hour daylight, as it is the height of summer.
Practical Information About the Anchorage Museum
- For more information check on the Anchorage Museum official website.
- For a fascinating discovery of Alaska’s indigenous people and their traditions visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center.
- There is a free shuttle bus from downtown Anchorage that stops at both the Anchorage Museum and the Alaska Native Heritage Center.
Other Things do in Anchorage
- If it is Alaskan animals you want to see, don’t miss the Wildlife Conservation Center or the Coastal Wildlife Refuge
- Anchorage is home to the world’s busiest Seaplane Base.
- If the salmon are running, be sure to stop at Ship Creek to watch the action.
- We took the Alaskan Railway train from Anchorage to Denali.
- Anchorage is one of the more unique places we visited as we toured the USA.
Unless otherwise noted, all photos on this page ©Rhonda Albom 2013. All Rights Reserved.