Anchorage Museum Audio Guide

There's no better way to get a grasp of Alaska’s history—or really, its many histories— than by visiting the Anchorage Museum. It's the state's largest museum, which explores Native and state history, accented with a lot of art. Highlights include The Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, with more than 600 native Alaskan objects, and the Imaginarium Discover Center, complete with marine touch-tank and planetarium and more. Don't miss Sydney Laurence's classic painting of Mount McKinley. Combine a visit here with a walk through the Alaska Native Heritage Center—a free shuttle runs between the two facilities.

Anchorage Museum Audio Guide

This tem­po­rary exhi­bi­tion space also offers dra­mat­ic views of the Chugach Moun­tains, the 250-mile moun­tain range that embraces Anchorage’s east­ern edge.The muse­um first opened in 1968 and has expand­ed three times over the past four decades. Anchor­age cel­e­brat­ed the grand open­ing of the museum’s most recent expan­sion, a four-sto­ry west wing with a shim­mer­ing glass façade, in 2010. The stun­ning addi­tion was designed by Lon­don archi­tect David…  ...more

Learn about marine ani­mals from South­east Alas­ka waters. Fea­tured crea­tures include the sun­flower sea star, which is the largest and swiftest sea star in the north Pacif­ic Ocean — they can scut­tle 5 to 10 feet per minute. The touch tank is just one of 80 sci­ence exhibits in the hands-on Imag­i­nar­i­um Dis­cov­ery Center.

In Alas­ka, most whale species don’t have teeth. Instead they grow up to 13-feet-long ker­atin plates, or baleen, which act like a giant sieve to cap­ture plank­ton. Iñu­pi­aq whalers dis­cov­ered the won­der­ful prop­er­ties of this stur­dy, frost-resis­tant mate­r­i­al. They used heat or urine to soft­en the baleen, then turned it into fish­ing nets, lash­ing and sled run­ners. Sleds like this ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry ver­sion were used to trans­port seals from icepack…  ...more

Video, audio and rare arti­facts con­verge to cre­ate an unfor­get­table overview of Alas­ka Native cul­ture. Mar­vel at 600 Alas­ka Native objects on loan from the Smith­son­ian Insti­tu­tion, includ­ing a Tlin­git warrior’s hel­met, Inu­pi­aq whale hunt­ing tools, and a hand-sewn Yup’ik par­ka made from 93 ground squir­rels. Hear Alas­ka Native lan­guages and see glimpses of con­tem­po­rary life.

New York artist Rock­well Kent and his 9‑year-old son spent the win­ter of 1918 on Fox Island near Seward. They were thrust out of their com­fort zone, liv­ing in a goat shel­ter that was a 12-mile boat ride from the near­est vil­lage. Kent paint­ed this scene near­ly 50 years lat­er from sketch­es of that adven­ture. The redemp­tive glow of the sun and two human fig­ures reflect his emo­tion­al jour­ney in the Alas­ka wilderness.

Inu­pi­aq artist James Kive­toruk Moses grew up hunt­ing, trap­ping and work­ing as a rein­deer herder. In 1953, a knee injury made his tra­di­tion­al sub­sis­tence lifestyle impos­si­ble, so he began his cel­e­brat­ed art career. This paint­ing illus­trates a dance com­pe­ti­tion between two men dur­ing Mes­sen­ger Feast, a month-long festival.

Scores of opti­mistic gold prospec­tors stam­ped­ed north to Alas­ka after 1880, see­ing the Last Fron­tier as a place of poten­tial wealth, great adven­ture and a sec­ond chance. Extract­ing gold from Alaska’s rugged ter­rain amid bru­tal ele­ments was hard work — and could be dead­ly for the unpre­pared. This exhib­it tells min­ers’ sto­ries using pho­tographs, arti­facts and, of course, gold.

At 20,320 feet, Denali (Mt. McKin­ley) is the tallest moun­tain in North Amer­i­ca; so tall, clouds often con­ceal it. But there’s always a great view of it at the muse­um thanks to beloved Alas­ka painter Syd­ney Lau­rence. He cre­at­ed this 13-by‑8 foot paint­ing in 1929 to cap­ture the immen­si­ty of the Last Frontier.

Cen­turies before Gore-Tex was invent­ed, Unan­gax hunters stayed dry by wear­ing water­proof parkas made from marine mam­mal intestines. In the 19th cen­tu­ry, Russ­ian naval offi­cers com­mis­sioned gut capes like this one, pat­terned after their naval uni­forms. A skill­ful Unan­gax seam­stress would need six months or more to sew such a cape.

Nat­ur­al resources have been cen­tral to Alaska’s eco­nom­ic suc­cess. The fur trade in the late 18th/​early 19th cen­turies, gold rush­es in the late 19th and ear­ly 20th cen­turies, and oil since the mid-20th cen­tu­ry have been key in Alaska’s devel­op­ment. The 1968 dis­cov­ery of oil in Prud­hoe Bay, the largest reser­voir of oil in North Amer­i­ca, led to the con­struc­tion of the trans-Alas­ka pipeline.