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Sailing For Salmon At The Anchorage Museum

April 29, 2011 by · 1 Comment 


If you are lucky enough to be traveling and camping throughout Alaska this summer, be sure to visit the Anchorage Museum located in the heart of downtown. When we lived in Anchorage about five years, I spent many afternoons at this museum with my children.

During the cold dark days of winter, I often became restless and wanted to learn more about America’s Last Frontier and the fascinating history of this very young state. When those moments struck, I would often bundle up the children and  take them downtown.  We  spent many hours strolling  through the museum’s permanent galleries. These visits gave my children a wonderful historical foundation of knowledge. So, once the snow melted and we started to camp in our travel trailer, we were all well-versed in  the region’s history, culture, artwork, and lifestyle.  The Alaska History Gallery and The Art of the North were two of our favorite permanent exhibits.

The museum recently underwent a major expansion and the Public Relations Manager, Sarah Henning,  told me earlier this week  that the expansion includes a hands-on science center with 80 exhibits and a marine touch tank. She also informed me that the new Smithsonian Arctic Studies Gallery, which is enhanced by touch screens, videos and audio, features 600 Alaska Native artifacts.  One current exhibit that completely fascinates me is “Sailing For Salmon: The Early Years of Commercial Fishing in Bristol Bay,” which runs from April 1 to October 2, 2011. The exhibit features historical photographs and eyewitness accounts from one of the world’s greatest fisheries, which is located in southwestern Alaska.  More than half of the planet’s sockeye salmon return to Bristol Bay annually and this commercial fishing industry has a history that dates back to the late 1800s. Before the 1950s, it was mandated  that all fishing in Bristol Bay had to be done on sailboats.  Motorized boats were forbidden.  This, of course, required great skill on behalf of the fishermen! The exhibit was curated by Tim Troll and John Branson for the Pratt Museum in Homer, Alaska. The Anchorage Museum has enhanced the exhibit by pulling some of the photos from their own photography archives.

Indeed, this type of exhibit is what brings Alaska’s  fascinating history to life for both young and old. So, if you are lucky enough to visit Alaska this summer, put this jewel of a museum at the top of your to do list! Without a doubt, it will help to bring meaning and perspective as you camp and travel  throughout America’s Last Frontier!

Image courtesy the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park and the Anchorage Museum.

–Melissa A. Trainer


One Response to “Sailing For Salmon At The Anchorage Museum”
  1. We usually salmon fish in the Washington San Juan Islands or the Canadian Gulf Islands. Bedwell Harbor, in the Gulf Islands has a salmon fishing boat that comes in each night. If we do not have a lucky day, you can buy fish directly from the boat. One of the best sites is when the bald eagles gather in the trees as the boat docks. The crew on the boat always tosses a few fish on the dock for them. They swoop down and take the fish….such a great sight!

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