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. The exhibition provides an interactive space 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


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Anchorage Museum Donors
John and Carolann Weir


The Julia Child Foundation