Alaska’s Statehood: We’re In! Learning more about what made us 49th

Alaska Public Media

Happy birthday, Alaska! On January 3, 1959, the Last Frontier became the 49th state, and oh, what a party it was.  Visitors to Alaska should never miss an opportunity to learn more about what made us #49, how, and why. It took hard work and passionate teamwork to bring Alaska to statehood, and we’re fortunate to have a full slate of museums that take great pride in explaining the details, even for kids. Or, especially for kids. Here are a few of our favorites that take one “North to the Future.”

by Anchorage Museum

Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center. The largest museum in Alaska, with an expansive collection of information and artifacts pertaining to the city’s role in statehood developments, the Anchorage Museum is a great place to begin one’s love affair with Alaska. An added bonus for kids is the Imaginarium Discovery Center downstairs, for sure, but don’t forget to take them upstairs to the history exhibit, either. It’s worth it, especially for teens who might find the roles of their 1950’s peers to be quite astonishing. Psst, the Alaska TourSaver Coupon Book has a 2-for-1 deal for museum admission.

The Museum of the North is perched high on a bluff of the UAF campus.

University of Alaska Museum of the North. While this Fairbanks musuem doesn’t have a ton of information pertaining to statehood efforts, the facility does spend quite a bit of time delving into Alaska’s cultural history, a theme woven into the ultimate outcome of statehood. This museum is best for older kids, but we do love that the Fairbanks Children’s Museum  now has a temporary home inside the building.

A little log cabin adds to the charming experience of Palmer.

Palmer Museum of History and Art. Did your kids know that the 1930’s brought an influx of people to the Matanuska-Susitna Valley for a ‘fresh start’ after the Great Depression? Yes indeed, President Roosevelt sent hardy folk from the upper Midwest with farming or ranching experience for the Matanuska Colony Project, and many relatives still live and work there, today. See this charming museum in downtown Palmer and learn more about how colonists braved a new environment for the sake of their families, and a territory.

(Alaska State Museum. Located in Alaska’s capital city of Juneau, the State Museum is probably the most pertinent location for learning more about the steps to statehood. However, in order to expand and hopefully reach a wider audience, the facility is closing in February, 2014 for a complete renovation of the entire facility. So, if you want to visit, go now, otherwise you’ll have to wait until 2016. Eeek.)

Full of interesting exhibits pertaining to Alaska's military history, the Veteran's Museum deserves a visit.

Alaska Veterans’ Museum. Huddled in a small storefront on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, the museum is run by a dedicated cadre of veterans and a board of directors. Packed with fantastic information about the military history of Alaska,  a major force in the state’s economy, the Alaska Veterans’ Museum is an excellent way to spend an hour or so. Kids will like the dioramas, models, and hands-on elements. Adults will enjoy visiting with the veteran volunteers who remember the day newspaper headlines screamed “We’re In!”

For more cool Alaska information, visit the State of Alaska Kids’ Corner website, found HERE.

In the meantime, however, AK Kid and I shall spend today making state-shaped cookies and singing our Alaska Flag Song:

‘Eight stars of gold on a field of blue….’


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