January 29, 2015
The Anchorage Museum has begun design planning to re-envision its hallmark Alaska history gallery.
One of the most visited areas of the museum since it was added during an expansion in 1986, the current Alaska Gallery welcomes thousands of Alaska children each year and greets thousands more tourists each summer. After 30 years of daily use, the exhibition is showing its age, and the museum has been developing plans for a new Alaska Gallery over the past several years.
The Alaska Gallery tells Alaska’s story from its earliest settlement at the end of the last ice age through the building of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. The new Alaska Gallery exhibition will cover this history through an overarching theme of Encounters, evoking the arrivals and departures of people throughout human history and their interactions with the land and people already here. It will showcase Alaska's rich history and feature hundreds of objects and photographs from the museum's collections. The new installation will also take advantage of new exhibition technologies. Emphasizing the voices of the people and the state’s rich diversity, the exhibition will include multiple viewpoints and offer more engaging and interactive experiences relevant to today’s visitors.
Planning for the multi-year $15 million project began in the early 2000s in conjunction with the museum’s most recent addition. The new Alaska Gallery is scheduled to open in September 2017 to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Alaska Purchase.
The exhibition design firm gsmprjct° (previously known as GSM Design) will be working with the museum staff to design and produce the exhibition. Selected from among 20 design firms that responded last fall to the museum’s Request for Qualifications, gsmprjct° has more than 50 years experience in exhibition design and production. Based in Montreal, gsmprjct° has a portfolio that includes international work in exhibition environments that cross media and span disciplines from ancient civilizations to contemporary art, from science to history to popular culture.
“We wanted to bring design into the conversation early, as design gives ideas and narratives form and function,” Museum Director and CEO Julie Decker said. “We also want to plan for a visitor-centered experience for the Alaska Gallery, one that combines immersive experiences with solid content and compelling stories of place and people. We feel gsmprjct° is a design firm that combines elevated design qualities with a strong emphasis on content. We are excited about the possibilities.”
gsmprjct° is currently designing the new history galleries for the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa. Previous projects include Treasures of Vacheron Constantin for the National Museum of Singapore, Collapse?, a multi-sensory exhibition for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and projects for Smithsonian Institution, McCord Museum, Musee de la Civilisation du Quebec and Pointe-A-Calliere, the Montreal Museum of Archeology.
gsmprjct° President Yves Mayrand said the Anchorage Museum “has a rich collection, an ambitious vision, and the same passion for narrative that we have. All of us at gsmprjct° see this project as a unique opportunity to push the boundaries of communication and visitor experience. We are excited by the possibilities and look very much forward to working hand-in-hand with the Anchorage Museum to create their new exhibition.”