Started in 2010 ・ Cultural Heritage & Outreach ・ Aron Crowell
In 1994, the Arctic Studies Center at the Museum of Natural History partnered with the Anchorage Museum in Alaska to share knowledge of Alaska’s native culture. The Smithsonian leant hundreds of artifacts to the Anchorage Museum, with the intent of having them be studied in the place from which they came by native Alaskan artists, scholars, and elders. The main exhibition, Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska, features over 600 objects dating back over 100 years. The museum is currently under the supervision of Dr. Aron Crowell.
The Anchorage Cultural Programs function in concordance with the Arctic Studies Center and provide a hands-on, interactive experience by which native Alaskan heritage is taught and shared. The programs vary in several capacities to educate about the history and cultures of Inupiaq, Yupik, Eyak, Haida, Tsimshian, Athabascan, Tlingit, and Sugpiaq people.
The Arctic Studies Center puts on workshops related to different aspects of Alaskan culture, where participants can take part in the traditions and practices themselves. Docents teach quill-working, bentwood box and hat construction, fishskin clothing weaving, and Athabascan fiddle-making, among other practices. The programs gather linguistic data and oral history to compound the knowledge that is already held. In addition, the museum’s collections are taken out of their exhibits, so that they can be studied and observed more personally. The Anchorage Cultural Programs are an essential part of the Arctic Studies Center’s goal of preserving and sharing native Alaskan culture.