I recently returned from a week long visit to Anchorage, AK. While I was there I had the good fortune to spend some time at the Anchorage Museum and let me tell you, it is fantastic! Located in downtown Anchorage, this museum is an easy walk for those visiting by cruise ship, as well as those on their way out to hike through the northern wilderness. The facility also houses community engagement services for locals and a library resource center.
The top floor of this four story museum is where they recommend you begin your visit. Right now it contains a series of photographs documenting the history of bush pilots in Alaska. The exhibit is relatively small, but high quality. The only concern I had was how warm the room was. With a wall of windows and a sun that just barely sets during the summer, it wasn't the most comfortable space to be in.
Next floor down hosts an exhibit of the history of Alaskan aeronautics. Bush pilots, tourism, and economic growth are all discussed through the lens of the airplane industry. It was a wonderfully designed exhibit and the depth of information was a delight! Grounded in physical objects, the exhibition also features photographs, film clips, and enough text to tell the story without overpowering the space.
The last of the exhibition floors is currently showcasing an exhibit made possible via the Smithsonian Institute. It is an ethnographic look at Alaska's native population. Each tribe is given equal space to display objects of cultural significance. Each tribe also has a screen which shows film clips of their people talking about issues important to them, performing traditional customs, and telling folktales. Along the far wall, objects of all the tribes are brought together to offer the visitor a comparative look at their crafts and ceremonial artifacts. It is an in depth look at the people of Alaska and I learned a lot.
The ground floor houses their cafe and gift shop. As far as museum gift shops are concerned this one was very good. It was a little light on books for my tastes, but full of native art.
If you find yourself in the Anchorage area I highly encourage you to take an afternoon and take a look at what they have to offer. The Anchorage Museum is a cultural gem in the outdoorsy north.