Image by Brian Kimmel

From fish and fiddleheads to salmonberries and Spam®, what gets plated in Alaska feeds our collective identity as much as it does our individual palates. This exhibition and accompanying series of public programs look at how Alaskans connect with each other and the land through food. The exhibition presents an expanded view of the vital cultural role food plays in the North, referencing home kitchens, community and tradition, innovation, climate and the future of food in the Arctic.

What Why How We Eat tells the changing story of food culture in Alaska -- from the subsistence whale hunt in Point Hope to the Halal market in Anchorage -- through filmed interviews, art installations, utensils, tools, recipes and food.

This exhibition is about the real food and real people of Alaska, highlighting multiple cultures and food traditions within Alaska communities. In-gallery dinner tables provide an interactive environment for learning about how food is produced, preserved and shared within Alaska’s diverse communities in both rural and urban areas. Food-oriented public programming and a book of food essays with companion cookbook of Alaskana recipes for dishes commonly made in Alaska’s kitchens are among the ways the What Why How We Eat project connects Alaska food culture with other cultures around the world.

The exhibition serves as a place for conversation and exchange, hosting all-ages, classes, lectures, demonstrations, lunches, dinners and tastings and providing opportunities for visitors to taste, feel, and experience the social and physical dimensions of our food culture through the following:

  • Urban Harvest classes sharing traditional food preparation and preservation skills
  • Group meals and food-related films
  • Drop-in food preparation and cooking demonstrations
  • Bike tours to community gardens
  • Community talks and workshops with local chefs, restaurateurs, small business owners, academics, farmers, and subsistence hunters


Anchorage Museum Donors
John and Carolann Weir

The Julia Child Foundation






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Member Preview: "What Why How We Eat"

6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, February 21

Join us for a special prix-fixe dinner created by Muse Chef Brad and inspired by the museum’s art collection featured in the Art of the North galleries. This meal includes three courses and two wine pairings along with an explanation of the specific inspiration for each dish. Dinner is from 6 to 8 p.m. followed by a What Why How We Eat exhibition tour from 8 to 9 p.m.

This is a ticketed, members-only event. Museum members may bring non-member guests. Limited seating. Advanced purchase by Feb. 14 advised. $90/member, $100/nonmember guest.

See the menu and official invitation

Learn more about What Why How We Eat

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Member Preview: "What Why How We Eat"

What Why How We Eat Taster

6 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22

Celebrate the opening of What Why How We Eat as you taste and learn about Alaska’s dynamic foodways with chefs, growers and foodies who offer samples and demonstrations to inspire your palate.  Drop in from 6 to 8:30 p.m. for a variety of local tastes:

6 to 6:45 p.m., Home chef Jess Young presents a cooking demo

7 to 7:45 pm, Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services (RAIS) representatives demonstrate spice toasting and blending

6 to 8:30 p.m. Julia O'Malley offers a sampling of pilot bread alongside its engaging history; Liz Hodges Snyder and Rachael Miller, food researchers,discuss local food security; SEEDS of Change and Vertical Harvest demonstrate the process of growing without soil; Edible Alaska's Jeremy Pataky and Amy O'Neill Houck share recent magazine issues and talk about food writing; Hearth Artisan Pizza Executive Chef Stacie Miller, shares fermentation processes; and canning expert Loki Gale Tobin discusses canning processes and provides samples.


Included with Polar Nights admission.


What Why How We Eat Taster
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