Alaska Visitors Guide

Anchorage museums may be expansive or niche, but they’re always inspiring

Whether you’re culturally curious, into the arts or hung up on history, Anchorage’s arts and culture scene has you covered. Museums and galleries across town showcase perspectives, experiences and treasures that offer insight into Alaska’s past, its contemporary landscape and the world beyond, as seen by artists, pioneers and others.

For many, exploration begins at the Anchorage Museum. The campus is within a short walking distance for downtown-dwelling tourists.

Permanent installations include “Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First People of Alaska.” This interactive gallery showcases more than 600 objects from the Smithsonian, selected and interpreted with counsel from Alaska Native groups. From traditional clothing fashioned from skins and furs, intricate beadwork and baskets and hand tools dating from long-ago times, it’s an impressive collection highlighting the resiliency and unique beauty of Alaska Native cultures.

The Alaska Exhibition highlights the ingenuity, technology and connection to place that have allowed Alaskans to thrive. Exhibits delve into aviation exploration, the military’s history in Alaska and significant industries such as mining and oil. Nearby, the Art of the North exhibit unfolds across spacious gallery bays, with sculptures, videos, photography and paintings. This is where you’ll find the timeless works of Sydney Laurence, Alaska’s most iconic Romantic landscape artist.

Current exhibits include “How to Survive,” running through January 2025. It examines ideas of interconnectedness, caretaking and listening between humans, land, plants and animals. Displayed works invite reflection, encourage action and seek to cultivate optimism in the face of climate change.

“Salmon Culture” is on display through Sept. 15, 2024. It celebrates the connections between salmon and Alaska Native peoples and honors salmon as a resource that has nourished communities physically and spiritually for thousands of years.

On display through Oct. 6, 2024, is “Lines of Sight: Comic Art and Storytelling in Alaska.” It features the work of artists and comic illustrators, celebrating visual storytelling and the enduring power of story to bring people together and foster inclusivity and imagination.


The museum store is a great gift shop for visitors seeking unique trinkets to bring home. Proceeds benefit educational and public programs and exhibitions. There’s also a cafe selling beverages and grab-and-go items and a coffee shop in the atrium.

On summer Wednesdays, the museum’s popular Lunch on the Lawn series features fun food trucks, live local music, science activities and family-friendly games in a beautiful green space.

The Alaska Native Heritage Center offers an encompassing celebration of the history and experience of Alaska Natives. It is a premier destination, devoted to understanding and sharing the ongoing legacy of Alaska’s Indigenous first peoples.

The Native Heritage Center is an indoor and outdoor facility that covers some scenic 26 acres, located northwest of the Glenn Highway and Muldoon Road. Its largely Alaska Native staff educates visitors about the enduring legacy of Alaska Natives, including their resiliency, unique traditions and shared experiences. It includes exhibits, demonstrations, a cafe and gift shop.

Many visitors will be surprised by Alaska’s broad range of Native cultures and traditions, and the Heritage Center presents an extraordinary opportunity to see it all in one place. Situated alongside a picturesque lake, the center includes recreated village sites, a glimpse into more traditional ways of life that visitors can freely explore.

After renovations this past winter, the Heritage Center is scheduled to reopen May 12, 2024.

While the Anchorage Museum and the Alaska Native Heritage Center are the largest and best-known in the area, many other cultural centers and museums address both broad topics and niche interests.

In downtown Anchorage, visitors will find the Fraternal Order of the Alaska State Troopers Alaska Law Enforcement Museum. Admission is $5, or $3 for military, law enforcement, youth and seniors, and the museum is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekdays.

This specialty museum houses the state’s only collection of historical law enforcement memorabilia, including an authentically restored 1952 Hudson Hornet automobile. The troopers museum also sports antique radios, handcuffs and leg irons, early wiretapping equipment, old photographs and documents and Alaska policing uniforms. Exhibits showcase women in Alaska law enforcement and one room contains a remarkable collection of law enforcement patches. There’s even a gift shop with Alaska State Troopers memorabilia and souvenirs.

Also downtown is the Oscar Anderson House, a 1915 home in storied Bootleggers Cove that was home to the 18th settler to arrive in “Tent City.” The charming cottage is now surrounded by a park and looks out across the waters west of Anchorage, and it’s acknowledged as a National Trust for Historic Preservation “Distinctive Destination.” This museum was closed during the 2023 summer season for repairs and restoration, and updates on opening hours will be shared on its website.

On Anchorage’s east side, the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature is a hidden gem. It showcases the special and specific science of Alaska, from prehistoric times to present. The museum is designed to take visitors of all ages on a learning adventure exploring Alaska’s geological, cultural and ecological background. The museum is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday to Saturday.

Another unique stop on Anchorage’s roster of museums is the Alaska Aviation Museum. It’s located on the shores of the Lake Hood Seaplane Base, which is billed as the busiest seaplane base in the world. In and of itself, Lake Hood is worth a stop and photo op, or even a walking tour to see landings and takeoffs and photograph colorful floatplanes.

The Aviation Museum is among Anchorage’s top attractions, with artifacts and relics of Alaska’s remarkable air travel history that will delight aviation buffs. There are more than two dozen vintage aircraft on display in four hangars and also outdoor exhibits. The Aviation Museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday to Friday, noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; entry is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and veterans, and $11 for children 3-13. The museum also offers a family rate of $48 for up to two adults and three children.

Before leaving Alaska, two final arts and culture experiences await at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

On the lower level is the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. This ever-growing exhibit celebrates Alaska athletes, sporting events and moments, paying homage to some of the state’s greats.

Some names may ring bells with visitors from the Lower 48, like cross-country skiing Olympic gold medalist Kikkan Randall and NBA player Mario Chalmers. Inductees offer interesting peeks into Alaska’s unique sports culture and Arctic pursuits.

The Hall of Fame celebrates dog mushing feats, mountain climbing and other athletic advocacy, and the lovely hall of portraits includes compelling captions and context. Inductees in 2024 were NCAA All-American runner Allie Ostrander, musher and five-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race winner Dallas Seavey, and 10-time Special Olympics World Games medalist Bobby Hill.


The airport also has a life-size bronze statue of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, for whom the airport is named. The statue depicts “Uncle Ted,” as Alaskans called him, seated on a bench with an arm outstretched, as though mid-sentence. It’s a point of interest for fans of Alaska politics and history, in which Stevens was pivotal for decades.

Finally, the airport offers a collection of Alaska Native art. The “Art in Public Places” gallery covers two areas, with the main collection on the C Concourse mezzanine level and additional, light-sensitive pieces in the Northern Lights Corridor that connects the main terminal to rental car and railroad facilities. It’s a last chance for visitors to take in beautiful creations from the 49th state before their Last Frontier adventure draws to a close.