16 Best Museums in Alaska

The numerous museums and historical attractions in the Last Frontier provide you with a look into Alaska’s rich cultural history. While the state’s scenery will undoubtedly captivate you, visiting its museums will reveal millennia of history and provide you with a better understanding of the Alaskan way of life.

Whether you are visiting the urban areas or the small towns, you should be able to find at least one or two museums to pique your interest. I have been fortunate enough to visit Alaskan museums and cultural areas in Sitka, Kodiak, Ketchikan, and Anchorage. All have their own unique styles and offer educational experiences that give you a better look into this fascinating state.

best musuems in Alaska

1. Anchorage Museum

The Anchorage Museum is Alaska’s largest museum, and it weaves social, political, historical, cultural, and scientific threads together to provide you with a unique perspective on the Last Frontier. It should be your first destination if you really want to dive into Alaska’s Native culture.

You’ll find hands-on scientific activities, a planetarium, marine life tanks, and more. Plus, there are masterworks of Alaskan Native art from the Smithsonian Institution.

  • Location: 625 C St, Anchorage, AK 99501
  • Hours: Tues – Sat 10 am to 6 pm; Sun 12 pm to 6 pm
  • Cost: $5 – $20, Kids under 5 free
  • Website

2. Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center

At the nationally acclaimed Haines Sheldon Museum, you can learn about the Chilkat Valley’s rich history, culture, and art. Explore how the Tlingit stronghold of Jilkáat Aani grew into a thriving multi-ethnic community, and enjoy permanent, temporary, and traveling exhibits.

You’ll find over 4,000 artifacts from Chilkat Blankets to the Eldred Rock lighthouse lens on display. Plus, there are 12,000 cataloged photographs and slides from the 19th century to today. Two thousand books and countless documents such as mining company ledgers, journals, pamphlets, letters, ship’s logs, maps, and research papers, can also be browsed.

  • Location: 11 Main St, Haines, AK 99827
  • Hours: Vary by season
  • Cost: $10, Kids under 12 free
  • Website

3. Alaska State Museum

When an Act of Congress founded the Historical Library and Museum for the District of Alaska on June 6, 1900, the Alaska State Museum was born. The Museum’s mission was to collect, preserve, and show artifacts from the Last Frontier. Even though the collection of objects and books developed quickly, it took 20 years to find a permanent home for them.

The museum now provides a unique perspective on Alaska’s history and different cultures, including fine art, mining, fishing, forestry, tourism, Russia-America, and World War II. A discovery area features a climb-aboard model of an early sailing ship as well as interesting activities for people of all ages. There are also virtual displays and special shows that change on a regular basis.

  • Location: 395 Whittier St, Juneau, AK 99801
  • Hours: Tues-Sat, 10 am-4 pm
  • Cost: $8 – $14, Kids under 18 free
  • Website

4. Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum

The Alaska Aviation Museum, formerly the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, is located in Anchorage, Alaska, on Lake Hood Seaplane Base. Since 1988, it has aimed to conserve, showcase, and respect Alaska’s aviation heritage by maintaining and displaying vintage aircraft, artifacts, and memorabilia and encouraging public interest in aviation and its history.

Over thirty aircraft, a restoration hangar, flight simulators, two theaters, and a Hall of Fame are all on display at the museum. There is a focus on historic aircraft, aviation relics, and the memorabilia that have contributed to Alaska’s aviation development and progress, such as Bush flying and the World War II Army base on Adak Island.

  • Location: 4721 Aircraft Dr, Anchorage, AK 99502
  • Hours: Open daily 10 am-5 pm during the summer months
  • Cost: $10 – $17, Kids under 3 free
  • Website

5. Alaska Veterans Museum

The Alaska Veterans Museum’s mission is to provide a venue for veterans’ memories and sacrifices for America’s freedom to be inspired, remembered and preserved.

It also works hard to educate the general public about the history of our veterans by the gathering, presentation, and exhibition of artifacts, personal narratives, and historical acts. The museum also encourages events that benefit veterans, active duty, Guard, and Reserve personnel. Exhibits include WW2 and Cold war paraphernalia.

Please Note

The AVM is moving to a new location in late 2022 and is temporarily closed until then.

  • Location: 411 West 4th Ave Suite 2A, Anchorage, AK 99501
  • Hours: Temporary closed 2022
  • Cost: $3
  • Website

6. Prince William Sound Museum

The Prince William Sound Museum is a non-profit organization funded through admissions, grants, and community donations. It is a tiny but fascinating museum that gives visitors a glimpse into Whittier’s colorful past.

The museum has 25 displays in a 1200 square foot area donated by the Shen family at the Anchor Inn. The exhibitions depict Alaskan military heritage during WWII and the Cold War while also telling the story of Whittier’s past. You can learn the tale of the Spanish Navy’s discovery of the Sound in the late 1700s, explore the history of the arctic flights in the 1920s, and discover information about the sinking of the S.S. Yukon in the Gulf of Alaska in 1946.

  • Location: 743 Whittier St department 102, Whittier, AK 99693
  • Hours: 10 am – 7 pm daily
  • Cost: $5, Kids under 18 free
  • Website

7. Totem Heritage Center

The Totem Heritage Center, located in Ketchikan, is committed to conserving and presenting totem pole artwork. It highlights the traditional art of the Tsimshian, Tlingit, and Haida communities.

The museum’s staff strives to educate visitors about the current totem pole artwork on display, some that are over 100 years old, in order to instill in them the respect and veneration that these works of art deserve. On your visit, you may be able to catch local artisans giving demonstrations.

  • Location: 601 Deermount St, Ketchikan, AK 99901
  • Hours: Vary by season
  • Cost: $5 – $6, Kids under 17 free
  • Website

8. Alaska Museum of the North

Explore Alaska’s indigenous cultures, natural beauty, and animals at the Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks. You can explore the art of the Last Frontier spanning over 2,000 years!

The displays at the museum are an excellent way to learn about Alaska’s diverse wildlife, people, and landscapes. You can see original installations about Alaska’s dinosaurs as well as learn about the research that the collections have enabled. Visitors will discover the stunning architecture and panoramic views of the Alaska Range. Plus, instructional films are shown every day, and there is a museum store and café on site.

  • Location: 1962 Yukon Dr, Fairbanks, AK 99775
  • Hours: Vary by season
  • Cost: $4 – $16, Kids under 4 free
  • Website

9. Alaska Museum of Science & Nature

Considered a bit of a hidden gem, the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature in Anchorage has dinosaurs, minerals, jewels, and Ice Age mammals on display. Many more goodies can be found in this hands-on science museum. You can get up close and personal with everything!

A full-size pterosaur and other dinosaurs, a woolly mammoth, an Ice Age bear, touchable wolves and bears, and even a whale are among the exhibits. This toddler-friendly museum has activities for all ages (including teenagers).

  • Location: 201 N Bragaw St, Anchorage, AK 99508
  • Hours: Thu-Sat 10 am-4 pm
  • Cost: Free
  • Website

10. Pioneer Aviation Museum

Due to the remoteness of many locations in the Last Frontier, pilots are highly regarded. A visit to the Pioneer Air Museum will give you some insight into these celebrated individuals. Go through the displays, models, and memorabilia, and you may learn about the pioneers of this important statewide industry. Logbooks, clothing, maps, early flight instrumentation, and aircraft with skis and floats fitted to Alaskan runways can all be found.

The museum is designed to resemble a round golden aviation hangar, complete with a model Air North plane set on beams outside in a simulated take-off. Inside, you’ll find a couple of the state’s first aircraft utilized in military, commercial, and bush flights in the 1930s and 1940s.

  • Location: 2300 Airport Way, Fairbanks, AK 99701
  • Hours: Vary by season
  • Cost: $5 – $10, Kids under 12 free
  • Website

11. Pratt Museum

This award-winning regional museum is home to exhibitions, activities, and events that explore learning and stewardship in the Kachemak Bay region’s science, art, and culture. It also includes an old homestead cabin and forest trails.

The American Association of Museums accredited the Pratt in 1982, making it Alaska’s first private museum to obtain this national recognition. Today, it is still regarded as a major cultural and educational institution in Alaska!

  • Location: 3779 Bartlett St, Homer, AK 99603
  • Hours: Thurs – Sund 11 am – 4 pm
  • Cost: $9 – $15, Kids under 5 free
  • Website

12. Alaska SeaLife Center

The Alaska SeaLife Center, which opened in 1998, is a private, non-profit research organization and public aquarium offering wildlife response and education programs. The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Fund was used to build this world-class 115,000-square-foot complex, which seeks to educate visitors about the necessity of understanding and conserving the integrity of Alaska’s waters.

A visit to the center will give you experiences like seeing a sea lion swimming by underwater viewing windows, puffins diving in a perfectly created naturalistic habitat, and harbor seals relaxing on rocky beaches. Kids love the Discovery touch tank! Plus, you can view live video in the Chiswell Island Exhibit of the Steller Sea Lion Rookery in Resurrection Bay.

  • Location: 301 Railway Ave, Seward, AK 99664
  • Hours: Vary by season
  • Cost: $13.95 – $29.95, Kids under 2 free
  • Website

13. The Roundhouse at Alyeska Museum

View from Roundhouse Observation Deck

The only mountaintop museum in the state, the Roundhouse, is located at the height of 2,280 feet above sea level. Built in 1960, it houses the top end of the United States’ longest chairlift, at 5,799 feet. Its unusual octagonal design served as a warming house before becoming a popular gathering spot.

Two mountain ranges and seven glaciers may be seen from the Roundhouse Museum, and it has exhibits depicting the history of the Alyeska ski resort.

  • Location: 100 Arlberg Ave, Girdwood, AK 99587
  • Hours: Vary by season
  • Cost: Free
  • Website

14. Oscar Anderson House Museum

The Oscar Anderson House Museum is the perfect way to find out what life was like for a family living in Anchorage in 1915! Oscar Anderson played a significant influence in the early development of Anchorage, and his residence was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Between 1978 and 1982, the Anderson Family assisted with restoring the property, which would eventually become the museum.

The Museum has been providing Alaskan residents and visitors with an opportunity to experience life in early Anchorage for almost 30 years!

  • Location: 420 M St, Anchorage, AK 99501
  • Hours: Varies by season
  • Cost: $3 – $10
  • Website

15. Valdez Museum & Historical Archive

From European discovery in the 1700s to modern oil transportation, the Valdez Museum depicts the community’s unique and colorful past. Temporary art and craft exhibits complement the permanent installations.

You will find a 19th century Fresnel Lighthouse Lens and a beautifully restored 1907 Ahrens “Continental” steam fire engine on display. The museum also has saltwater aquariums with Port Valdez marine life, a Civil War-era cannon, an ornate turn-of-the-century saloon bar, and plenty of gold rush materials on display. The devestating impact of the 1964 earthquake and the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster on this little Prince William Sound hamlet are also depicted in other exhibitions.

  • Location: 217 Egan Dr, Valdez, AK 99686
  • Hours: Varies by season
  • Cost: $5 – $7, Kids under 13 free
  • Website

16. Alaska Native Heritage Center

The Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage provides an in-depth study of Alaskan Native culture. You can watch dance performances, listen to stories, meet carvers, and tour recreated winter homes. Visitors are occasionally requested to join the dancers on stage because the space is small and personal.

Many crafts and handiwork are also on display, such as elegantly ornamented moose hide boots, birch bark baskets, and seal hide tunics. Outside, you may see life-size replicas of traditional native homes, such as a Supiaq, a semi-subterranean structure created by the Alutiiqs to protect themselves from the harsh Alaskan climate.

  • Location: 8800 Heritage Center Dr, Anchorage, AK 99504
  • Hours: Vary by season
  • Cost: $12 – $29, Kids under 4 free
  • Website

Learn About Alaska’s Unique History!

With so many quality museums to explore in the state, you could spend days just wandering the various exhibits!

The Alaska Native Heritage Center should definitely be on your bucket list if you are visiting Anchorage. I also recommend making some time for the Totem Heritage Center if you find yourself in Ketchikan.