December 18, 2015
By Alaska Gallery Curator Aaron Leggett
My first museum experience as a child was visiting the Alaska Gallery at the Anchorage Museum. Today, I serve as the curator of Alaska history and culture, helping to oversee the re-envisioning of the Alaska Gallery for a 2017 opening. Being a part of this project is exciting, as I literally grew up with the Alaska Gallery.
Alaska is a story of place, and its people are the storytellers. The landscape affects the people who live here, and the landscape is affected by the people who make this place home. Alaska Native people are a critical part of that story. We are not just Alaska’s first people, we are a part of this place – its past, present and future.
The re-envisioned Alaska Gallery will present the past as it informs the present – to be understood together through a series of key themes, including people, the landscape, adaptation, cold, boom and bust, and Alaska’s strategic position in the world.
Consistent throughout is the idea that there is not just one Alaskan people, but that Alaska is a place of multiple cultures. The new Alaska Gallery will showcase the ingenuity, technology, ways of knowing and intimate understanding of the landscape that have allowed people to survive and thrive across the North. The issues that we face today are things that have been dealt with and adapted to for centuries. These big ideas are timeless.
The Alaska Gallery experience will include immersive installations with elements of sculpture, video and interactivity, soundscapes, moving images and cinematic narratives with participative moments throughout. Visitors will be engaged directly and encouraged to play, explore and learn by doing. My hope is that when future generations visit the museum they will see the story of Alaska as their story.