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Anchorage Museums & Historical Sites

Anchorage is home to many museums and historical attractions that present Alaska’s fascinating blend of Russian, Native, gold rush and pioneer history from every imaginable angle.

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The Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center at the Anchorage Museum features more than 600 rare Alaska Native heritage artifacts.
The Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center at the Anchorage Museum features more than 600 rare Alaska Native heritage artifacts. ©Anchorage Museum/Chuck Choi

An Alaska adventure should begin with a visit to the Visit Anchorage Information Centers where a friendly and knowledgeable staff provides helpful information, along with the occasional story of Alaska pioneer days.

Directly behind the authentic sod-roofed cabin is Historic City Hall. This two-story building opened in 1936 and once housed all of the city’s municipal services. Today, find a free exhibit of life in early Anchorage in the lobby, enjoy summer noon-hour concerts on the lawn or depart on one of several available city tours. Within walking distance there are numerous galleries, shops and restaurants.

Nearby points of interest include several museums. The Alaska State Trooper Museum tells the story of the officers who brought law and order to the Last Frontier. The Anchorage Museum is a world-class facility with a fascinating depiction of Alaska's history and art of the far north. Open year-round, the Museum also features permanent and traveling exhibits, special programs and many annual events.

For a prehistoric look at Alaska, check out the fossils and artifacts at the Alaska Museum of Science & Nature. A survivor of Alaska’s pioneer era, the Oscar Anderson House in Elderberry Park, was built in 1915 by a Swedish immigrant. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, many of the original artifacts belonging to the family remain in the home to this day.

Just outside of downtown, Earthquake Park commemorates the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake - the most powerful tremor ever recorded in North America. See where huge tracts of land slid into the inlet, destroying 75 homes.  For a first-hand experience visit the Alaska Experience Theatre and learn more through a movie, photo displays and the “Safequake Theatre.”

More than 800 take-offs and landings occur on a peak day at the world’s busiest float plane base, Lake Hood. Nearby, the Alaska Aviation Museum displays vintage aircraft and tells the story of Alaska’s unique aviation history.

Learn of Alaska’s diverse Native cultures at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Spread across 26 acres, the Center includes six traditional village settings surrounding a two-acre lake. Within the Welcome House, Alaska elders and youth celebrate their traditions together while the beats of their drums move gathering crowds. 

Those interested in Alaska’s early indigenous life should also visit the Alaska Heritage Museum at Wells Fargo, which holds one of the largest collections of Alaska artifacts, and Eklutna Historical Park, a cemetery with colorful spirit houses and the Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church – the oldest standing building in the greater Anchorage area.   

With Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson just north of downtown, Anchorage is home to a strong military community. The link between the city and its service members is evident at the Alaska Veterans Museum (AVM). Located in Fourth Avenue Market Place, the AVM tells the stories of individual military service members through memorabilia, photos, posters and more. The museum’s flight simulator can model 200 different military and civilian aircraft.