There's no better way to get a grasp of Alaska’s history—or really, its many histories— than by visiting the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center. The state's largest museum offers a compelling overview of Alaska’s history, art, culture and science. Here, you can satisfy your curiosity: Get the dirt on the gold rush, learn how Alaska’s earliest people survived sub-zero temps, see the wake of the biggest earthquake in North America and more.
Alaska's First People
The Museum first opened in 1968, and a major expansion in 2010 added the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center. The hugely popular gallery houses more than 600 Alaska Native objects that bring the state’s varied indigenous cultures to life. Artifacts include ceremonial masks, battle armor and waterproof clothing made from seal intestines. Visitors can view short films and photographs that show what being Alaska Native means today, and how traditions are being carried into the future.
The museum offers great ways to get hands-on and up-close. The 80 kid-friendly science exhibits in the Imaginarium Discovery Center include a marine touch-tank and small planetarium, where you can see winter’s Northern Lights even when it’s summer. Some galleries feature iPad-like touch screens. Others, including the Alaska art and history galleries, offer free tours led by engaging docents who train more than 100 hours each year. Just try and stump them!
Hop to the Alaska Native Heritage Center
To enrich the experience even more, you can combine a visit here with a walk through the Alaska Native Heritage Center— a joint ticket is offered at a discount and a free shuttle runs between the two facilities.