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Anchorage Museum hosts Arctic programming during President Obama's visit to Alaska


ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Anchorage Museum is co-hosting events in collaboration with the upcoming GLACIER (Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience) Conference, an event hosted in Anchorage Aug. 30-31 by the U.S. Department of State and the Secretary of State John Kerry to broaden awareness of critical issues the international community faces in the Arctic. Approximately 150 foreign ministers and 300 members of the international press will attend the conference, with President Barack Obama giving closing remarks.

The Anchorage Museum has created multiple exhibitions and programs focused on the contemporary and future Arctic as part of its Polar Lab programming and is home to the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center. The museum is providing cultural context for GLACIER and is a venue for official activities around the conference.

“This is a distinct opportunity to see cooperation from many members of the Alaska and international community; a chance for Anchorage to celebrate its place in the world while international attention is turned to it,“ says Anchorage Museum Director and CEO Julie Decker. “We can change the narrative about Anchorage from a that of a frontier town to one of a pivotal, vibrant city poised to participate in global discussions about the future of the Arctic and its impact on the rest of the world.”


Arctic August

An outdoor celebration of the Arctic

Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30

Anchorage Museum Lawn

To celebrate life in the North, the Anchorage Museum hosts an event on the museum lawn with live music headlined by Pamyua, cooking demonstrations and samples provided by the Alaska Marine Conservation Council and Alaska Grown. An interactive art instillation highlights the many facets of the North. Free and open to the public. Please note: The Anchorage Museum will close at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30.

Live Streaming of GLACIER

Monday, Aug. 31

Anchorage Museum Auditorium

The Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience (GLACIER) will highlight international and domestic priorities in the Arctic. GLACIER will discuss individual and collective action to address climate change in the Arctic; raise the visibility of climate impacts in the Arctic as a harbinger for the world, and the Arctic’s unique role in global climate change; identify ways that Arctic innovators are responding to these critical challenges; and share opportunities to prepare and respond to other issues in the changing Arctic.

Picture the Arctic: Capturing the Story of Arctic Climate Change

An event for youth

9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1

Anchorage Museum

Visual imagery can make global challenges personal, compel us to care about critical issues and motivate us to take action. Climate change is one of the most urgent matters facing the Arctic today, so how do we use film, photography, video games and social media to share this important story given all its human, environmental and scientific complexities? How can youth use different technologies and techniques to share their perspective on Arctic climate change with their peers, their communities and the world? High school seniors and university students explore these questions and take a closer look at different ways in which international and local experts have shared the story of the dramatic changes happening in the Arctic Region. This event features introductory remarks from U.S. and Norwegian guests; live streaming with participants in Norway and Minnesota; a moderated expert panel discussion featuring dynamic Arctic and visual storytelling professionals; and an interactive Q&A session. Admission is free but an RSVP is required. To attend send name, title, organizational affiliation, email address and phone number to Veronica Padula at by COB Thursday, Aug. 20.

Dena’ina Welcome

Aug. 19-Sept. 1

Displayed on Anchorage Museum façade

On the museum façade, there will be an installation of the words “Chin’an gu ninyu,” welcoming visitors in the Dena’ina Athabascan language. T-shirts with the Dena’ina phrase will be distributed during Arctic August on Aug. 30. About half of Alaska’s residents live in traditional Dena’ina territory, the indigenous people who have called Southcentral Alaska home for more than 1,000 years. “Chin’an gu ninyu” (chin-an goo neen-you) translates literally to “Thank you, you came here.”

Art Installations

Aug. 28-Sept. 1

Anchorage Museum and Dena’ina Center

The North is entwined with history, marks on the land, personal memories and adaptation. The Anchorage Museum invites you to make your mark on large art installations at the Dena’ina Center and outside the museum. These triptychs, composed of four-by-eight foot sheets of birch ply, feature contemporary images of the Arctic by photographer Brian Adams and others. The images are revealed as people take away four-by-four-inch blocks that are covering parts of the images in the early moments of the installation. The wood blocks have Arctic words carved into them in multiple Northern languages (English, Alaska Native languages, Russian, Icelandic, Swedish, Finnish, and Norwegian). The blocks become keepsakes for GLACIER participants and the public. The wood varies in species; some will be burned to create more color variation. These “takeaway messages” then reveal images of an authentic and diverse Arctic. As the blocks disappear/are taken, the images still remain. On the backs of the installations is another area to interact, where people can participate by answering thoughtful questions about their own place in the world.


On Ice

On view through Sept. 20, 2015

Formed from frozen seawater exposed to periods of enduring cold, sea ice is a simple material with complex implications. Sea ice provides hunters and whalers with vital access to resources, it helps to moderate the world’s weather, and it is home to much of the microscopic life that supports some of the world’s most valuable fisheries. “On Ice” explores the historical role this material has played in the Arctic, presented through the perspectives of science, business, government and individuals whose lives and livelihoods are inextricably tied to its dynamic conditions. “On Ice” provides context for looking at the future of the North and how life here is ever changing for people, whales, walrus, plankton and more. This exhibition is part of the Anchorage Museum’s Polar Lab.

Florian Schulz: To the Arctic

On view through Nov. 1, 2015

Although the common perception of the Arctic is that it is a vast nothingness, Florian Schulz’s photographs reveal a world teeming with life amidst complex natural systems — systems that fuel our global economy and affect our health and environment. An award-winning wildlife photographer, Schulz photographs throughout the Circumpolar North, from Alaska to Canada, Greenland and Norway. To capture these images, he and his crew endure subfreezing temperatures, camping on ice sheets, diving beneath icebergs, and riding on dogsleds. His photographs reveal the vast scale of the Arctic plain, which is host to migrating birds from around the globe, as well as the yearly migration of thousands of caribou. They also expose how the loss of polar ice and snow is dramatically altering the fabric of Arctic life on land and sea. This exhibition is part of the Anchorage Museum’s Polar Lab.

Arctic Ambitions: Captain Cook and the Northwest Passage

On view through Sept. 7, 2015

It’s one of science’s hottest topics: Melting Arctic ice is revealing a Northwest Passage – the very thing Captain Cook sought but never found. Mostly celebrated for his explorations of the South Pacific, Captain James Cook also braved the frozen Arctic searching for a northern route to Asia. This exhibition focuses on his journeys in the northeast Pacific during 1778 and 1779. Artifacts, art and hands-on activities for families bring to life this exciting era in history – a time of bold discoveries made dangerous by uncharted waters, rocky coasts and unrelenting ice. The exhibition examines the legacies of Cook’s northern voyage, including changes to indigenous life. Displays delve into the intriguing issues at play in the North during Cook's expedition that are still relevant today, including different nations’ claims to the region and its resources. This exhibition is part of the Anchorage Museum’s Polar Lab and is an official program of the Anchorage Centennial.

Polar Night: Life and Light In the Dead of Night

On view through Oct. 4, 2015

Step into the dark, grab a penlight, and experience the wonder of polar night inside the museum. We’re breaking open the myth that polar night, the period of continued winter darkness near the Earth’s poles, is a time of inactivity within the Arctic ecosystem. Learn how the darkness of high Arctic winter is full of life thanks to recent scientific studies in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard that reveal a thriving undersea ecosystem. This exhibition is organized in conjunction with the Tromsø University Museum.

Curated Conversation: Commodification of Culture

6 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28

In the face of globalization, culture has become an object of consumption through channels such as tourism, advertising, and collecting practices. A new market of cultural voyeurism has fostered a rigid, consumable image of authenticity that elides the experiences of Indigenous peoples today and vigorously defines culture from the outside, turning culturally significant objects into consumable goods. A diverse group of artists responds to these challenges by formulating critiques of global capitalism, imagining exit strategies and creative disruptions to the commodification process, and combatting the persistence of stereotype in commodity culture. Greenlandic performance artist Jessie Kleemann has engaged how cultural symbols like the Greenlandic national costume have been commodified. In her performance practice, Kleemann critically activates space, her body, and her viewers’ senses often in settings where violence against the body mirrors how body itself has become subjected to commodifying gazes. Nicholas Galanin’s work makes similar challenges to a paralyzing notion of authenticity by remixing themes and materials and unsettling the cultural voyeur’s gaze. Charlene Teters bridges activist and artistic practice to look at the persistence of stereotypes and how commodity culture parasitizes and appropriates expressions of Indigenous cultural identity. The curated conversations series takes place over the next two years during the time the U.S. holds the chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Part of the Anchorage Museum’s Polar Lab, a series of programs exploring life in the North. Sponsored by The CIRI Foundation.

Smithsonian Spotlight: In the Scheme of All Matters Iñupiaq

Noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3

According to Iñupiaq scholar Edna Ahgeak MacLean, Ph.D., "Courses of change to the Iñupiaq people of the North Slope will require strong programs for the retention of our identity as Iñupiat." In this lecture she discusses how her recently published North Slope Iñupiaq dictionary plays a part in this process. The Smithsonian Spotlight lecture series features Alaska Native artists, scholars and researchers on the first Thursday of each month. Hosted by the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center at the Anchorage Museum. Included with admission

Curated Conversations: Edges

5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4

Panelists Edgar Heap of Birds, Princess Lucaj Johnson, Aaron Leggett and others discuss the different edges around the legacies of Captain Cook and other "explorers" who claimed and renamed places with a long history of use by indigenous people. The curated conversations series takes place over the next two years during the time the U.S. holds the chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Part of the Anchorage Museum’s Polar Lab, a series of programs exploring life in the North. Sponsored by The CIRI Foundation. Included with admission


The Anchorage Museum is the largest museum in Alaska and one of the top 10 most visited attractions in the state. The museum’s mission is to connect people, expand perspectives and encourage global dialogue about the North and its distinct environment. Learn more at


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