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Juneau's Alaska State Museum

Established in 1900, this Juneau gem is a blast from the past. Here are five things we love about it.

weaving by Kay Parker at Alaska State Museum in Juneau, image
Photo caption
Traditional patterns grace a weaving by Kay Parker at the museum.


Some 32,000 ethnographic items—an Athabascan baby belt, Yupik masks, and Inupiaq parkas—reflect the pride of Alaska's Native peoples. Visit now; the trove of cultural and natural treasures will close in March 2014 for a two-year remodeling. (907) 465-2901,

1  Birds' nests are usually private. That's why the eagle tree, a bald eagle nest diorama, has delighted generations of museum visitors, who peer at the seven birds from an encircling ramp.

2  There's no place like home, which for Alaska's Tlingit was traditionally a spruce clan house. View cooking baskets tight enough to hold water and tongs for adding hot rocks to boil it. A large copper shield on display signified wealth.

3  Ahoy! A scaled-down model of George Vancouver's HMS Discovery beckons from the children's activity room. Kids love pacing the deck, plunging into the hold, and taking the wheel.

4  A six-foot globe crammed with geophysical data and software, Science on a Sphere presents sequential displays of earth tremors from two hours ago, drifting continents, and the island of Manhattan disappearing beneath future seas.

5  Modern and classic Pacific Northwest motifs interlace in the museum's stunning temporary exhibits. Artist Kay Field Parker brings ancient "ravenstail" weaving back to life, and Tommy Joseph fashions Tlingit body armor from yew wood, deer sinew, and elk hide.

Photography courtesy of Terra Dawn Parker


This article was first published in September 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.