Family Fun Alert at Fairbanks’ Museum of the North

The Museum of the North is an amazing structure located on the UAF campus in Fairbanks. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Fairbanks, Alaska is a city of approximately 33, 000 hardy souls who thrive in this Interior landscape that continues to impress those from Outside (anywhere not Alaska). Fairbanks is also home to the University of Alaska’s Fairbanks, a four-year institution offering everything from Arctic studies to mining for its 9,000 students. UAF is located atop a ridgeline overlooking the scenic Tanana Valley, and it is here the Museum of the North holds court for the scores of visitors who arrive here each year. 

The museum is huge – 1.5 million artifacts are housed here – and its sloping, oddly-shaped building is a conversation piece in itself (do not miss the stunning views from the soaring windows inside, or on the lawn outside). Inside, exhibits are divided into 10 different disciplines – 10 disciplines: archaeology, birds, documentary film, earth sciences, ethnology/history, fine arts, fishes/marine invertebrates, insects, mammals, and plants. Over three floors and almost 50,000 years of time, the Museum of the North provides a look at the art, science, and culture behind Alaska’s far north, for what it means now and in the future. 

There was a time the Museum of the North didn’t attract many children; it’s a facility designed for more adult tastes, and activities were over the heads of most kids, mine included. But in the past several years museum staff have gone over and above to meet the needs of young visitors, and today’s museum experience is vastly different from our first. 

Kids can enjoy the museum’s education department and regular public programs, offering a variety of community programs for all ages to explore Alaska’s science, art, culture and history through hands-on activities. 

Getting artsy at Museum of the North in Fairbanks. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Family programs 

Discover history, science, culture, and art through investigations, hands-on exploration, and crafts. The museum’s activities are designed to stimulate curiosity and encourage multigenerational collaboration. Find activities in the Creativity Lab. Included with museum admission. Check out themes HERE.

Teen Studio hours are just for kids age 13 and up. Make cool stuff and connect it to the art, culture, and science of our world. Museum admission + $5 materials fee.

Early Explorers meet every Friday between 10 a.m.-12 p.m. September through May. This drop-in program is all about discovery and creation, with all materials and activities provided. Adults must stay with kids. Siblings are welcome. Included with museum admission. 

Junior Curators meet one Saturday per month from 2-4 p.m.  in the Creativity Lab to enjoy an experience together. Discover science, culture, and art through hands-on investigations and crafts. Adult supervision required. Siblings of all ages are welcome.
Upcoming Junior Curators: April 14 – Science Potpourri. May 12 – Travel.

Family Days allow the whole family to connect with the museum with a variety of hands-on activities, including crafts to take home, games, and experiments. Meet curators, scientists, and other experts while you see and touch museum specimens and explore the galleries. Family Days are designed to engage the whole family in exploring, investigating, and having fun, and everyone is welcome, of any age.

Note: Guests 14 and under are FREE on Family Days, and parking is always free on weekends

Hands-on, messy crafts mean kids are learning. [Image courtesy Fairbanks Children’s Museum]

Finally, the Museum of the North is once again hosting summer camps for kids in grades 2-6. Check out their schedule HERE

High schoolers may enjoy the Alaska Summer Research Academy, a two-week adventure into an archeological site at Quartz Lake. The Alaska Summer Research Academy (ASRA) offers engaging and in-depth experiences in science and engineering throughout the year.  During the summer of 2018, ASRA will offer a 2-week summer academy from July 23 – August 3. Learn more HERE.


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