A world-class museum located in the heart of Alaska's largest city, the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center began as a public-private partnership to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the purchase of Alaska from Russia. The Museum opened its doors in 1968 with an exhibition of 60 borrowed Alaska paintings, and a collection of 2,500 historic and ethnographic objects loaned from the Cook Inlet Historical Society.
A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts made possible the first visiting national exhibition, "The Far North," from the National Gallery of Art in 1973. That same year, the Museum became the first museum in Alaska accredited by the American Association of Museums, and voters approved a bond issue to pay for a 15,000 square-foot building addition.
In the next decade, with the flood of revenues from oil development, the state funded community-wide building projects. "Project 80's" led to a major 140,000 square-foot expansion of the Museum in 1986. Funds were raised to complete the Alaska Gallery, a showcase of the Museum's permanent historic and ethnographic collection. This Gallery remains a popular Alaska resident and tourist destination, helping school children and adults alike explore Alaska's unique history and rich cultures.
As the facility grew, so did the Museum's collections. The permanent collection now numbers 25,000 objects plus an education collection of roughly 2,000 artifacts; the Atwood Resource Center houses more than 500,000 historical photographs, 12,000 publications and 800 maps.
Each year, more than 20 travelling exhibits from around the globe visit the Museum.Travelling exhibitions are complemented by innovative public programming--community-wide cultural events, Free Family Days featuring local artists and hands-on art activities, and docent-led tours for approximately 15,000 school children every year.
In 1992, the Museum became the home of the first regional office of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History Arctic Studies Center. The Arctic Studies Center supports the Museum's mission through research, education, collections and exhibitions. Today the Museum-one of the 10 most visited attractions in Alaska-looks forward to another expansion of both its facility and mission, to become the region's premier repository and workshop for the study, appreciation, and enjoyment of the culture and science of the North.
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