It's almost like a family reunion—or a homecoming," says Paul Ongtooguk, a University of Alaska education professor from Nome. On May 8, some 600 Alaskan Native artifacts, most collected more than a century ago and tucked away at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., will again see daylight in a new wing of the Anchorage Museum built for its Arctic Studies Center.
A Tlingit war helmet collected in 1893 (above) and a Yupik parka made of crested auklet skins are among the center's many treasures. The display cases will remain unsealed so that Native elders, artists, and scholars can remove the artifacts for study. "The idea is to reconnect these objects to the culture they came from," says Ongtooguk, an Inupiaq Native who helped advise the exhibit planners. "We want people to see them and tell stories."
Also on May 8, the museum is opening a 40-seat planetarium and a 9,000-square-foot "imaginarium," a multigallery science center with 80 exhibits on everything from earthquakes and auroras to wildlife of Alaska and other locales. (907) 929-9200, anchoragemuseum.org.
Photography courtesy National Museum of Natural History
This article was first published in March 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.