The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center is a museum located in downtown Anchorage in the U.S. state of Alaska. Beginning as a public-private partnership to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Alaska purchase, it opened in 1968 with an exhibition of 60 borrowed Alaska paintings and a collection of 2,500 historic and ethnographic objects loaned from the local historical society, and the museum has been enlarged several times since. Its official name is now Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center. The museum completed a $106-million addition and renovation project in May 2010.
The Anchorage Museum's mission is to share and connect Alaska with the World through art, history and science. The exhibits that are withheld here display knowledge, and teaches uninformed students how Alaska came to be.
The museum opened in 1968 in a 10,000-square-foot (930 Sq mi) building with an exhibition of 60 borrowed Alaska paintings, a collection of 2500 historic and ethnographic objects, and a staff of two. The museum has grown steadily and expanded three times since then, most recently in 2010, to its current size of 170,000 square feet (16,000 Sq mi) with a collection of 25,000 objects and 500,000 historic photographs, and a staff of more than 50. First accredited in 1973, the museum has maintained its accreditation since. In 1992, the museum became the home for the Alaska office of the Smithsonian's NMNH Arctic Studies Center, which supports the museum's mission through research, education, and exhibitions.
The Anchorage Museum is "a world-class museum located in the heart of Alaska's largest city". It welcomes over 180,000 annual visitors from Alaska and from around the world and serves as a cultural center for the community. The museum is repeatedly ranked among Alaska's top ten visitor attractions. Each year it presents 16–20 changing exhibitions complemented by education programs and activities. In 2006, 20,993 students and 47,836 adults participated in education programs. Permanent exhibits include an Alaska history gallery, Alaska art galleries, the Imaginarium Discovery Center science galleries and the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, which features Alaska Native artifacts on long-term loan from the Smithsonian Institution.
The Anchorage Museum has over 40,000 square feet (3,700 Sq mi) devoted to its permanent collection with a focus on Alaska history, Art of the North and Ethnography.
This gallery is devoted to Alaska's rich history from the native fauna through the time of the first early migrations to the present. The Alaska Gallery exhibits more than 1,000 objects and is one of the most complete presentations of Alaskan history and ethnology. Full-scale and miniature dioramas give insight into the lifestyles of Alaska's Native peoples, exploration and settlement by the Russians, the gold rush era, World War II and statehood in 1959.
Art of the North
The permanent art collection represents the vast range of art from Alaska and the circumpolar North. Seven galleries on the museum's ground floor are devoted to this collection. Exhibits include landscape paintings, drawings from early European expeditions to Alaska, works by contemporary artists, and an entire gallery of paintings by Sydney Laurence, perhaps Alaska's best known artist.
Exhibitions and programs
Exhibitions include juried shows, interpretive exhibitions and traveling exhibitions from other museums. The museum provides a substantial range of exhibits and programs that acquaint Alaskans with the art, culture, history and science of other peoples and places. In recent years, the museum has presented "Wrapped in Pride: Ghanaian Kente and African American Identity", "Tibet: Mountains and Valleys, Castles and Tents", "Woven Treasure: The Coverlets of Norway", and several exhibitions of Korean and Japanese ceramics. The museum also seeks to ensure that its Alaska-focused programming and exhibitions represent the diversity of immigrant heritages in Alaska and the Far North. Public programs include lectures, classes, workshops, films, public and school tours, and special events.
The museum's 170,000 square feet (16,000 Sq mi) include galleries for interpretive exhibitions of its permanent collection and galleries for changing exhibitions. A large atrium, two classrooms and a 230-seat auditorium host a wide variety of programs, classes and special events. Back-of-house includes exhibit prep workshops, collections storage, and workspace, including a conservation laboratory.