Anchorage Museum – New Look for Old Sciences

Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

The verbiage said it all. 

“Deep time will blow your mind.” 

The Anchorage Museum proudly unveiled three new exhibitions to media as part of their most recent renovation, and science plays an abiding role in the artful pieces. 

Well-known artist of Alaska whimsy and quirky prose Ray Troll paired up with paleontologist Kirk Johnson, director of the Smithsonial National Museum of Natural History to log more than 10,000 miles and 250 days traveling the North American coast in search of fossils, with many a story to tell about each. The exhibition, called Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline, focuses on their efforts to find “fossil adventures” with careful, visual and auditory stories that fossils can reveal. Stuff like mass extinction (were there five – or six – events?) And how about those Desmostylians, or “Desmos” as Troll refers to them, the only order of marine mammals to go completely extinct? “Family trees” of each prehistoric creature and its fellow creatures tell a story of evolutionary amazement in colorful, whimsical, and incredibly-engaging ways. Kids age seven and up will likely enjoy this exhibition, found on the first floor, and you may find it hard to pull them out. On view through September, 2018.

Trying out virtual reality sample of Murmur at the Anchorage Museum. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Just inside the atrium space (you know, where the big fountain used to be) is the inner workings of an installation known as Murmur, an attempt to combine kinetic (movement-based) sculpture with a mixed-reality holographic experience that places visitors within an Arctic landscape. If the words “kinetic” and “holographic experience” didn’t excite your kids, then perhaps the virtual reality goggles to try it out will. Artist John  Grade is on hand to provide a preview of the sculpture, and older kids will definitely be wowed by the opportunity to “walk” the Arctic. It was — mind-blowing. On display through January, 2018.

The Ephemeral State plaster cast of the North Slope oil fields. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO.

Finally, the Anchorage Museum second floor is where you’ll find the third exhibit, titled Ephemeral State. Just like photography created a new form of understanding of the physical space we inhabit centuries ago, today’s 3D mapping technology reveals what we formerly thought were intangible aspects of that environment. Ephemeral State seeks to find the elusive qualities of the most precious resource on our planet – water – in its three physical states (c’mon everyone, recall your chemistry classes); liquid, solid, and gas. using data gathered from the Alaska environment and the science community, Lead Pencil Studio artist and architects Daniel Mihalyo and Annie Han have created a seemingly simple form with complex and sometimes unnerving results. It’s an alternative representation of Alaska, with snow, ice, waves, steam, clouds and rain, all cast in various forms, and one should visit with an open mind, and an open schedule (as in, don’t rush through here, take time). For me, the plaster casting of the North Slope’s oil fields was striking; flat, with little bumps that obviously were not natural, creating a relief that made me wonder. Ephemeral State is definitely for older kids who have a good grasp of the abstract, and a sense of their position in the world. Colors are flat, and the setting is plain on purpose. On view through January, 2018. 

A whole weekend, starting tomorrow (Friday, September 15) is dedicated to the recent renovations and additions, with activities scheduled for most of open hours. Find the schedule HERE

It’s fall at the Anchorage Museum, and the perfect time for a visit. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

For more information about the Anchorage Museum, go HERE

Admission to the Anchorage Museum: 


$12/Alaska residents 

$10/Senior, Student, Military w/ ID 

$7 Kids 3-12 

Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday

Noon-6 p.m. Sunday

Anchorage Museum members receive a wealth of benefits, access to private events, and a discount at the store. 



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