UA Museum of the North

1962 Yukon Drive

UA Museum of the NorthPhoto by JR Ancheta, UAF University Relations

Charles Bunnell, the college’s first president, envisioned Alaska’s university as a center of research about Alaska. No part of the institution fulfilled that goal better than the University of Alaska Museum of the North. According to tradition, the museum began in 1922 as a single display case in Bunnell’s office.

Over the next 50 years, the museum had many homes around campus, including the Eielson Building and Signers’ Hall. In 1980, the University of Alaska Museum moved to a new building on West Ridge.

That building was then expanded into today's architecturally distinctive structure, with construction completed in 2006. More than 600 foundations, corporations and individual donors made up the private base of support for the expansion. Combined with funding from the state of Alaska and federal grants, more than $42 million was raised for construction, equipment and furnishings.

The expansion includes a 28,000-square-foot research center, the 10,000-square-foot Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery, a 3,000-square-foot learning center, a multimedia auditorium for presentation of lectures, films and performances, and an expanded museum store.

In addition to a permanent exhibit depicting the biology, culture and history of each region of Alaska, the museum includes temporary exhibit space, multimedia presentations and a gift shop. The museum sponsors programs such as the Alaska Native Heritage Film Center, the Alaska Quaternary Centerarchaeological and anthropological research, world-class mammalogy, ornithology and aquatic collections and research, and ethnographic research.

Collection highlights include a complete bowhead whale skeleton hanging in the lobby; Blue Babe, a more than 55,000-year-old mummified steppe bison; a herbarium; the state’s largest display of gold; and the world’s most comprehensive collection of Alaska Native basketry, clothing and footwear. The collections hold more than 2,600 drawings, paintings, photographs, prints and sculptures focusing on the North. 

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Guided tour: UA Museum of the North