Hours Spent in Anchorage...

Our main goal today was to visit the Anchorage Museum's exhibit- Polar Bear Garden, commemorating the 150th anniversary of America's purchase of Alaska.

A little about where we were: The Anchorage Museum's mission is to connect people, expand perspectives, and encourage global dialogue about the North and its distinct environment.
And what exactly is the Polar Bear Garden? On March 30, 1867, Secretary of State William H. Seward agreed to purchase Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million (2¢ an acre). Ridiculed by Congress and the press, opponents called it Seward’s “ice box” and President Andrew Johnson’s “polar bear garden,” the purchase was very controversial at the time.
After learning about the events of the past, we were reminded that Alaska and Russia are intimately connected by land and history but are also distant — separated by water, language, war and politics.
Objects in the exhibition included the historic treaty and the purchase check, as well as archival and contemporary photographs, nesting dolls, cartoons, feature-length films, and Cold War propaganda- all of which took us museum-goers on a journey between Alaska and Russia (since the purchase) exploring stereotypes, language, storytelling, boundaries and crossings. It was all very intriguing.

I loved this exhibit on fur. Pictured is Muriel Hagberg (Miss Alaska), wearing a fur trimmed bathing suit, while sitting on fur on an iceberg, with fishing gear (1953). Kind of fun, right?
We all know about the Russian-America Company and its fur trade, but did you know that from 1851- 1867 it was the leading purveyor of ice? All beer chilled in San Francisco, during that 15 year period, was done so with Russian ice. Wild right? And in 1935, they even created an Ice Cream they called Eskimo.
I loved the photography of Evgenia Arbugaeva. This image of Lake Baikal was a cool tie-in with Tahoe. At one point there was the Tahoe-Baikal Institute. Realizing that both lakes are important in scopes other than just the scientific and political, TBI's exchange program incorporated academic, recreational, and cultural activities so that the social, aesthetic, and inherent values of both lakes may be appreciated. Sadly, there is no longer such an exchange.
And this one titled Tiksi demands a further explore. I think it was my favorite.
 There was an entire exhibit space on vodka and caviar- Russian staples!
One can't be in an exhibit about Alaska without going back to its original people.This was one of the most well done exhibitions ever! In the first arrangement of its kind, the Smithsonian Institution has loaned hundreds of indigenous Alaska artifacts to their place of origin allowing access for hands-on study by Alaska Native elders, artists and scholars. These cultural and historical treasures are exhibited here in the new Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center.
The center’s main exhibition is titled Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska. The exhibition featured more than 600 objects from the Smithsonian's collections that were selected and interpreted with help from Alaska Native advisers.
Wanting to know more about various objects, there were touch screens where we could zoom in on a photo of an object and scroll through more information, such as related oral histories and archival images. So thorough!
Lastly we found ourselves in the Discovery Center and I in a gigantic bubble. As it turns out, bubbles are all around us. The fizz in soda comes from bubbles of carbon dioxide. In milk, bacteria make CO2 bubbles that balloon into the holes in Swiss cheese. Humpback whales hunt using nets woven of bubbles.The awesome Bubble Space featured bubbles both as items of play and as tools to understand surface tension, shape and light reflection.
And how interesting to get a peek into the Conservation Lab: a behind-the-scenes look at a working conservation lab with historical objects from the collection! Super museumy cool.


 And these fur undergarments, my friends, are today's Only in Alaska!
Our final explore, for today, was at the Alaska Public Lands Information Center, located in Anchorage's historic Federal Building. This interesting center hosts exhibits representing natural, historical, and cultural features throughout the state. Wandering among the exhibits, visitors get a mini-tour of Alaska. One can also learn about recreating on public lands in the state as well as materials for educators to bring back to their classrooms. Staffed by National Park Rangers, the center offers a plethora of information: from one-on-one trip planning assistance, to brochures and maps, to camping destinations, safety tricks, and so much more.
Lucky for us Thursdays are Alaska Zoo Programs Day where guests get to meet live animals from the Alaska Zoo! Animal handler Nathan shared with us the biology of the featured animal, Sasha, a North American porcupine (which we learned is one of the largest rodents in Alaska, second only to the beaver). This was so incredibly informative! Wow.

Cabela's was a bit busy so we drove along the road less traveled and will sleep with this spectacular view. Alaska continues to delight!

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2 comments:

Cyndy Brown said...

Well yeah, them fur undies would keep ya cozy on a cold Alaskan night...did ya buy a set?

Karen Booth said...

Great trivia about the Russian ice cooling S.F. beer for 15 years. They obviously keep adding to the exhibit seeing the Trump/Putin nesting dolls. I'd like to put those two in a container somewhere. And I don't think I'll ever be able to say "I was encased in a bubble today" Fun stuff!

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