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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 "The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center", and it is currently in the process of expanding with a new $100-million addition.



The Anchorage Museum’s mission is to share and connecct Alaska with the world through art, history and science.


The museum opened in 1968 in a 10,000-square-foot 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 twice since then, most recently in 1986, to its current size of 140,000 square feet (13,000 m2) with a collection of 21,000 objects and 450,000 historic photographs, and a staff of 36. 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.

The museum’s library/archives are in frequent demand by publishers, scholars, and other researchers for its information and images. Titles held in the Library are accessible to students, scholars and the public via interlibrary loan on the web.

The Imaginarium, soon to be integrated into the museum, reaches over 50,000 people, and 400 school groups through education programs and science exhibitions, and serves Anchorage residents at its Anchorage site (in a downtown mall), and through its statewide touring exhibition/education program it serves 45 rural communities across the state.

The Smithsonian Institution’s Arctic Studies Center conducts public programs and collaborative research programs to increase understanding of northern peoples, cultures and environments. It develops exhibitions and offers professional museum training workshops frequented by museum and cultural center personnel from across the state.


Geographic area served

The museum serves its statewide mission by organizing and presenting programs and exhibitions in Anchorage, as well as by traveling exhibitions throughout the state. Examples include exhibits shared with museums in Unalaska, Bethel, Homer, Ketchikan, Kenai, Fairbanks, Kodiak, and Juneau.

The museum provides professional recommendations on collections, exhibitions, education, archival organization and conservation to other Alaska museums, cultural centers and the public.

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 and cultures of other peoples and places. For example, 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, symposia, classes, workshops, films, public and school tours, and special events.


The museum is operated by the Anchorage Museum Association, a private non-profit organization under a long term contract with the Municipality of Anchorage. Its annual budget comes from earned income, fundraising and grants, and from the municipality. The municipality owns the museum facility and collections. The Anchorage Museum Foundation, a 501(c)(3) functionally integrated supporting organization, manages the permanent endowment and oversees the expansion project.


There are 35 FTE staff members and they are organized into the following departments: Administration, Enterprise, Education, Exhibitions, Library/Archives, and Collections. The Imaginarium integration is planned for 2009, when 15 personnel will be added. The onsite personnel for the Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center include an archeologist and an anthropologist. The museum relies on a robust volunteer program. Over 300 volunteers work as docents, in the shop, and in education, collections, exhibits and library/archives.


The museum's 140,000 square feet include galleries for interpretive exhibitions of its permanent collection, a children’s gallery, 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. The expansion project will add a 80,000-square-foot (7,400 m2) wing and renovate the existing facility.


The new wing will feature the Smithsonian Institution’s Arctic Studies Center, through which a thousand Alaskan Native artifacts will return to Alaska from the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of the American Indian for a long-term installation. There will also be new galleries for changing exhibitions, an expanded library/archives, and improved visitor services, including a café, gift shop, and visitor information.

Renovations to the current facility will facilitate the integration of Alaska’s only science discovery center, The Imaginarium, with science galleries to be located in what are currently changing exhibit galleries. In addition, vacated spaces will be renovated to include a new classroom, multipurpose room, and curatorial and administrative offices. Back-of-house areas will have more collections storage installed and more exhibition preparation space.

The new extension to the museum has been planned by David Chipperfield Architects Ltd., London. It will create a new entrance and appearance for the whole museum by implementing a highly unique façade and building set-up. The façade was custom designed and supplied by Overgaard Ltd., Hong Kong. The scope of materials for this one-of-a-kind façade includes approx. 5900 m² of custom insulated fritted glass. This glazing type and pattern has never before been used and was especially developed for the project by Overgaard Ltd. To meet the extreme environmental conditions the insulated glass units are 24 mm thick. The outside sheet is tempered 6 mm low-iron sheer with a silver mirror frit. The inside sheet is 6 mm low-iron clear sheet. The frit is silver reflective on one side and metallic on the other. All glass units have been pre-assembled prior to shipping to allow for easy installation.

External links

Coordinates: 61°12′58″N 149°53′04″W / 61.2161°N 149.8845°W / 61.2161; -149.8845


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