One place I really wanted to go to in Juneau on this latest trip was the "Alaska State Museum." My daughter and I walked about a mile from the ship to get there and spent at least an hour there, but really could have stayed longer. The 1960's style, somewhat non-descript exterior of the museum is a little deceiving for inside the museum contains some very good displays, artifacts, and artwork. Start with the "Natural History" section which has a spiraling ramp around a tree with a gigantic bald eagle's nest and displays of "preserved" native animals.
Another of the most popular exhibits is "Alaska Natives." There are no fewer than 9 native cultures or tribes represented through clothing, paintings, artifacts, tools and lifestyle exhibits in several rooms on the first floor. Lighting in several rooms of the museum is rather dim, but photos are allowed.
There were two temporary exhibits I particularly liked. The North Gallery on the second floor featured the artwork of Alaskan artist Rie Munoz whose colorful, stylized work I really, really liked. All the work displayed centered around Alaskan or winter themes. Unfortunately, her work will only be displayed at the Alaska State Museum through September, 23, 2006. The other temporary exhibit I enjoyed was 2 rooms of photography consisting entirely of whales. I love these gentle creatures and what is a visit to Alaska without seeing at least one, preferably in person, but this is the next best thing!
I found an hour or so in this museum was money well spent! Summer admission fee in 2006 was $5.00 for adults; Winter admission is $3.00 for adults. Anyone 18 yrs. old and under is free!!!
NOTE: A check on current admission has shown that the fee for an annual pass has decreased from $18 (2008 prices) to $15 (2013). [A survey of the website on 2/6/2013 revealed that the posted admission fee is now $7.00 for adults; $6 for seniors 65 and over WINTER ADMISSION FEE: $3 for all.] Admission to those under 18 and museum members is free. The $15 annual pass also covers admission to the Sheldon - Jackson Museum in Sitka, Alaska.
Hours: Early May through late September 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily
Winter hours: 10am to 4pm Tuesday through Saturday, September 26th to mid-May.
Closed on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day in summer; closed for holidays in winter.
Came back yesterday. Tried your suggestion ( Alaska State Museum), and we were very glad to have gone. Thanks again.
As we were on a cruise and the morning was taken up with whale watching and Mendenhall glacier, time was short. We took a taxi to save time. This allowed more time inside and less walking back to the ship.
The State Museum is an interesting museum that covers a variety of topics related to Alaska and its history. Areas of focus include the state's native cultures, its wildlife, its Russian period, the territorial period, and the history of cruise-based tourism.
In the 1800's, Russia was heavily concerned with the security of it's borders from invading imperial powers, especially Great Britain. When the opportunity to sell Alaska came up, the Russians figured that it was a very good idea. Because the United States was such a great ally and friend, they could have no better neighbor on their far eastern border. I know for certain they felt quite different in the next century when the Cold War became the dominant event in both countries affairs.
As one would expect, the Alaska State Museum contains a thorough collection of Native Alaskan items, as well as many other things covering the many histories of Alaska including the Russian influence and the eventual American entrance.
Admission is $5 in the Summer and $3 in the Winter.
In Juneau, I'd recommend a walk around the town, and a visit to the Alaska State Museum. Among the permanent exhibitions are beautiful exhibits on the native people of Alaska, as well as the Russian immigration period in the 1800's. The museum is an enlightening way to spend an afternoon taking in the history of the area. Admission: $5.00. Winter discount $3.00. Those 18 and under and Friends members are admitted free.