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’Gyre’ dives into the murky waters of marine debris

1/27/2014 Contact: Sarah Henning -
Jan. 27, 2014

Contact: Sarah Henning (907) 929-9231 (w) (907) 250-3352 (c)

“Gyre: The Plastic Ocean” on view Feb. 7 – Sept. 6 at the Anchorage Museum

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — There are no roads within 150 miles of Hallo Bay, a brown bear haven in Alaska’s Katmai National Park. Yet last year 4 tons of garbage were collected from just 4 miles of beach in one day. Plastic bottles. Fly swatters with sports team logos. Fishing nets. All were brought to Hallo Bay with the tides.

Alaska’s wilderness is the closest thing to a pristine landscape on the planet, but even the Last Frontier is not immune to the growing ocean trash problem. An ambitious new art and science exhibition tackles the big picture. “Gyre: The Plastic Ocean” debuts Feb. 7 at the Anchorage Museum.

“Gyre” tells a global marine debris story through the work of 26 artists hailing from Australia to Finland, as well as a National Geographic film, documentary photography, and hands-on activities for families.

The exhibition also features findings of a 2013 scientific expedition to study marine debris in Alaska. The boat carried scientists from the Alaska SeaLife Center, Blue Ocean Institute, Smithsonian Institution, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as artists, educators and documentary filmmakers. Some of the artwork in the exhibition incorporates trash gathered during that journey.

There is no accurate estimate of how much marine debris is in our oceans, according to NOAA. The marine debris issue is so vast and complex, it is challenging for the scientific community to study in a comprehensive, global way. To get an inkling of the scope, during 2012’s International Coastal Cleanup effort, Ocean Conservancy volunteers collected 10 million pounds of trash … in one day.

This provocative 7,500-square-foot exhibition includes more than 80 artworks, about half created specifically for this exhibition. Internationally known artists such as Alexis Rockman, Mark Dion and Chris Jordan are exhibited alongside Alaska artists including Sonya Kelliher-Combs and Tim Remick.

“Gyre: The Plastic Ocean” takes a balanced, proactive approach designed not to chastise, but to inspire. “Humankind has certainly imposed its footprint on this landscape, but we have not ruined it,” said Julie Decker, Anchorage Museum director and exhibition curator. “Plastic is a modern material, so this is a modern and recent problem. That means there are things we can do, individually and collectively, to reverse the impacts.”

“Gyre: The Plastic Ocean” is on view through Sept. 6 at the Anchorage Museum. The exhibition is included with museum general admission. Purchase tickets and learn more at

The Anchorage Museum is the largest museum in Alaska and one of the top 10 most visited attractions in the state. Learn more at


Want more information? Download the complete "Gyre" press kit on the Media Access homepage.

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