PermanentHistory, Culture

The Alaska Exhibition

Location
Anchorage, Alaska, USA
Client
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center
Surface area
12,000 sq ft
Completion date
2017
Overview

In 2015, the Anchorage Museum announced plans to renew its beloved Alaska Gallery. Originally opened in the 1980s, the new Alaska exhibition tells the story of Alaska from prehistory to today, addressing in particular the relationship between people and landscape in this unique part of the world.

GSM Project was mandated to collaborate closely with the museum’s internal project team throughout the entire process, from the earliest concept phases to the exhibition opening in 2017. We worked closely with the museum to develop content, design all scenographic and showcase elements, create all-new media and interactive content, and then build and install the new exhibition — the museum's flagship visitor experience.

GSM Project
GSM Project
GSM Project
Our challenge: to rethink a cherished history gallery

A land of contrasts and extremes, Alaska is a complex social and natural landscape that lends itself to myth and cliché. With this in mind, the Anchorage Museum wanted to completely rethink the way the state’s history and culture is presented, challenging the traditional format of history galleries.The re-envisioned exhibition presents a contemporary approach to the telling of Alaska’s history through multiple voices and perspectives. Museum-goers are invited to consider for themselves what Alaska really is: what is real, what is myth, and what lives in the space in between.

GSM Project
Interpreting Alaskan identity through contemporary design

Across 13 distinct themes, from “Alaska is Wilderness” to “Alaska is Adaptation”, visitors discover the many faces of Alaska. GSM Project brought the storyline to life in playful and daring ways; artistic installations, sculptures, multimedia, soundscapes, artifacts and interactive game stations tell the stories of real people, completely immersing visitors in various historical time periods, or presenting contemporary issues in approachable ways.

3DS
GSM Project

“Alaska is a story of place, and its people are the storytellers. The landscape affects the people who live here, and the landscape is affected by the people who make this place home.”

Aaron Leggett

Anchorage Museum Curator of Alaska History and Cultures

GSM Project
GSM Project
GSM Project
An interactive exploration of human stories

On view are more than 400 artefacts from the Anchorage Museum’s collections, each telling a story of the lived experiences of Alaskans. The exhibition is also rich in multimedia content, featuring some 30 video productions that bring a human touch to the experience, and visitors also encounter plenty of opportunities to interact and engage. For example, in the “Alaska is Wilderness” zone that explores the myths of the great outdoors, visitors discover real-life stories of people that have escaped into the Alaskan wild. At a digital station called “the Viewfinder”, visitors can flip through photo stories and archival images.

GSM Project
GSM Project
GSM Project
Engaging community in discussion

At the heart of the gallery is a gathering place that showcases the people and stories of Alaska through a growing archive of biographies and images. This space hosts artists, performances, school groups, readings, storytelling and special events, and welcomes museum-goers to engage in a community-wide conversation exploring Alaskan identity today.

3DS
GSM Project

Summary

From concept to reality, GSM Project designed and built the revamped Alaska exhibition and flagship visitor experience at the Anchorage Museum. The brand new permanent exhibition brings the story of Alaskan identity to life in an engaging and playful way, inviting museum-goers to rethink the myths and clichés of this unique state, broadening their understanding of Alaska and its complex identity.