As museums go the Anchorage Museum is a one stop shop for a little bit of everything. There are some interesting exhibits on art and on photography and the history of Alaska but there were two exhibits that really caught our attention, the first was the permanent exhibit on the native Alaskan villages that is coordinated in conjunction with the Smithsonian and the other, a temporary exhibit about Gyre, the immense floating islands of plastic trash that accumulates in the worlds oceans.
The Native Alaskan exhibit allows the visitor to marvel at vast and beautiful displays of artifacts from each of the villages. The kids and I took the time to connect similarities like the waterproof suits made of seal intestines that were used by several villages and differences like the various decorations on the parkas and garments done with beading or fur or the intricate carvings like the wood totems of the T’lingit and the walrus ivory and baleen baskets of the Yupik and Inupiat. The best part of the exhibit was watching the beautiful and vivid video presentations depicting traditions, food preparation, storytelling and the preservation of culture from one generation to the next.
The kids and I found the exhibit on gyre particularly interesting. One one hand the exhibit made us feel awful about all the trash the collects in the worlds oceans, learning how it affects wildlife of every size and shape. My kids had no idea about these floating islands of trash that are as big as the size of Texas and they were quite shocked. On the other hand the exhibit took us on a flight of fancy as artists used these salvaged bits of tumbled plastic objects to create art, colorful, whimsical, and often with a message connected to the environmental impact.
The Anchorage Museum is definitely worth a visit. As temporary exhibits change I am sure whatever the curators put together will be thought provoking and interesting, sparking conversations that will leave everything thinking and connecting dots, for in the end, that is what it’s all about anyway….