The non-profit Alaska Native Heritage Center honors the diverse indigenous peoples of our 49th state by chronicling Native cultures, languages, and traditions and instilling pride in Native communities. Alongside a serene lake, a wooded path winds through six life-size dwellings in the center's outdoor facilities. These re-creations of ancient homes showcase Alaska's 11 cultural groups, and at each site, cultural representatives perform Native dances, demonstrate games and art, and tell stories about life in the past. The Alaska Native Heritage Center utilizes education and celebration to spread knowledge of Alaska's unique Native cultures across the globe, while also preserving and perpetuating indigenous traditions. Inside the museum, a collection of tools, artwork, and drums provides a tangible representation of contemporary Native people’s lives. The museum covers all native cultures in exhibits such as the Inupiaq exhibit and the Athabascan exhibit, which features a hand-woven birch-bark basket and moccasins made of moose hide and beads. To supplement the interactive displays, the Heritage Center conducts cultural outreach through a variety of programs, including the Walking in Two Worlds program, which connects 6th- through 8th-grade students with their cultural roots. The Alaska Native Playwrights Project helps Native people to find an outlet for their stories through theatrical productions and eloquent playbills.:
Since 1999, The Marx Bros. Café and chef de cuisine Jonah Cotter have joined forces at Muse to assemble Pacific Northwestern dishes spiced with influences from Asia and Europe. This culinary team drizzles bright, citrusy sauces over fresh coastal seafood, sears high-quality steaks and cuts of venison, and bakes decadent desserts in-house. Servers shuttle each carefully crafted plate to the vibrant, contemporary dining room, where floor-to-ceiling windows and candy-red pillars surround mod crimson chairs. This dramatic design is no doubt influenced by Muse’s location in the Anchorage Museum, where art, history, and science exhibits are designed to instill a deep understanding of the human experience. The restaurant encourages diners to schedule reservations that coordinate with museum events, or to rent the dining room for private parties and games of pin the tail on the Picasso.
With its craggy mountains, monochrome tundra, and verdant valleys, Alaska itself stands as a monument to the beauty and power of nature. Focusing on the state's prehistory, the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature's sprawling collection of artifacts educates the public with engrossing and educational dioramas and displays. Among the museum’s notable exhibits is its newest installation, Ice, which delves into the profound geological changes wrought by the last Ice Age. Likewise, the Schmidt Mine exhibit lets visitors touch and pick up craggy specimens from the collection, including meteorites and fluorescent stones. Ancient mammoth bones and fearsome saber-tooth tiger jaws show patrons the fauna encountered by Alaska's first human inhabitants, whereas fully assembled dinosaur skeletons transport viewers even further back in time, way before the Jurassic Park movie came out.
South Pacific—a story originally brought to life by Broadway greats Rodgers and Hammerstein—presents a titillating and tangled web of love lines, country allegiances, and tetherball death matches, set against the backdrop of World War II. Power-ballad seeking patrons will swoon as they're swept away by the melodies of "Bali Ha'I," "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair," and "Some Enchanted Evening," resounding within the sonically engineered Discovery Theatre. With its two-tiered seating area, swooping curved walls, and a ceiling of silver-saucer acoustic disks, the theater treats earthbound ears to an out-of-body experience unknown since Killer Klowns From Outer Space: The Musical .
In the late 1960s, Anchorage's grocers held a contest to see who could sell the most toilet paper. One of two first-place prizes was $3,000, but the victor chose the other—a baby Asian elephant. He quickly realized he couldn't take care of her, so he put her up in the heated barn of local horse rancher Sammye Seawell. Sammye fell so in love with this small pachyderm that she began housing other abandoned creatures—enough to fill a zoo. More than 40 years later, The Alaska Zoo's keepers and staff continue this simple but powerful mission: to rescue orphaned, injured, and captive-born animals of the Arctic, sub-Arctic, and similar regions.
Today, the zoo’s habitats house more than 110 animals from 53 cold-loving species. In semiaquatic zones, polar bears nap, harbor seals swim, and river otters attempt to solve calculus equations. In terrestrial environments, amur tigers play with a ball attached to a zipline, and black bears lounge in a hammock made from recycled fire hoses. Other habitats house residents such as snow leopards, reindeer, and wolves.
In addition to caring for these animals, staffers conduct Iditarod-focused educational events in March and use animal-themed light displays to celebrate both the summer solstice and approaching winter holidays. They also raise awareness for wildlife through educational programs, such as seasonal adventure camps and zookeeper shadowing, and join in conservation efforts, such as serving as ambassadors for Polar Bears International and the Toupees for Bald Eagles Project.
Supporting education. Building a stronger community. Creating accessibility. Alaska Junior Theater aims to do all that and more. The nonprofit organization hosts youthful audiences at educational and entertaining performances, which address subjects such as geography, social studies, and history. Dedicated to bringing the arts to the community at large, the organization also partners with villages and rural school districts throughout Alaska and includes bus transportation in its youth ticket sales.