Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
by Wildcat Dianne
July 29, 2010
Upon stepping on the property that the Anchorage Museum of History and Art is located, I didn't exactly call the building ugly, but it did remind me of a big ice cube, but it also reminded me of the Hancock Building in Boston that Dad was part of the engineering team constructing that place in the late 1960's. The Anchorage Museum also reminded me of when I was a kid and other kids would go outside on hot days with mirrors and paper and try to set the paper on fire by exposing the mirror to the sun for long periods of time. Would the Anchorage Museum's mirrored glass and metal have the same effect?!
I really didn't care what the outside of the Anchorage Museum looked like, I was more interested in the stuff was inside and made my way inside. I had to wait in line at the ticket counter for what seemed like an eternity waiting for this father and son who just found out that the Star Wars Exhibit that had just ended was no longer there. Daddy was trying to convince sonny boy to go elsewhere, but the kid insisted on touring the museum, and finally the son prevailed. My sister loves the Star Wars movies, and I would have loved to have visited her buddies Luke, Han Solo, and Darth Vader to make her green with envy upon returning home. What a nice big sister I am!
I finally got to get my $10 admission ticket and was on my way to exploring Alaskan history and art. The Anchorage Museum has exhibits on three levels starting at Level One which houses the Art of the Northern Galleries. Several artists came to Alaska in the 20th Century to try to make it big as artists of Alaskan Natives and other culture, but many didn't make it but an artist named Sydney Laurence, who left his family in England, to make it big in Alaska was one of the rare success stories. Laurence arrived in Alaska at the turn of the 20th Century and started to paint several paintings of Denali and Alaskian native life and culture. I enjoyed looking at the mountain and native paintings, but I found one of Laurence's paintings of a settler killing wolves. But my favorite painting of Laurence's was a study of the snow and ice covered tree branches that reminded me of the snow covered branches near our home in Idaho when we lived there from 1992-2008. Sydney Laurence became one of the pre-eminent Alaskan painters until his death in 1925.
After enjoying a short tour of the Art of the Northern Galleries, I headed up to Level Three to see the special exhibit on the Aleutian War that occured between Japan and the USA during World War II. More on this part of American history in another journal entry, but I did enjoy this part of the museum tour very much and spent a lot of time looking at the photos taken during the war and after the war along with army weapons, uniforms, and medals donated by both Japanese and American soldiers who participated in the ensuing battle that had the USA take back Attu Island from the Japanese invaders. I was happy to see this exhibit looked at this somewhat unknown part of WWII was done from both armies points of view.
After touring Level Three, I went back down to Level Two to the Alaska Gallery which houses the permanent exhibit of Alaskan history from 10,000 years ago to the present. It was mind blowing for me to see all of the history of this beautiful place from prehistoric times, from the Native point of view, Russian conquest and discovery, when the Americans bought Alaska from Russia in 1867 for a pittance. I learned on this trip that Russia sold Alaska saying it would be too much of an economic burden and useless to maintain. Boy were the Russians wrong there! There is an interesting part about the history of the pipeline complete with a sample of the old pipeline. Man that is one huge piece of conduit!
I loved seeing what life was like for the many groups living in Alaska and the clothing. My favorite piece of clothing was a Russian woman's national dress on a mannequin. The pearls and other intricate work on the costume and headpiece was exquisite.
I spent about two hours in the Anchorage Museum before coming up for air and heading out for other adventures in town. The Anchorage Museum is open every day except for Mondays from 9-6 and until 9 on Thursdays. There are free guided tours in the museum from June-September or you can tour the place yourself like I did. I did talk to one docent who happened to be from Florida, too, and he was glad that I was enjoying myself in the museum. Free films are also available at set times. I highly recommend you visit the Anchorage Museum when you go to Alaska.
From journal Museum Hopping, Shopping and Other Mischief in Anchorage
July 2, 2006
From journal Anchorage: Gateway to Alaska
July 24, 2002
From journal Time Well Spent in Anchorage, Alaska
October 27, 2000
From journal Anchorage in the Summer