Recently I experienced the second best museum I’ve ever seen in my life. I wrote about the best museum, Budapest’s House of Terror, here, and that one would be nearly impossible to beat, so calling this one the second best is nothing to sneeze at. It’s on the Fairbanks campus of the University of Alaska, and it’s called the Museum of the North.
There are so many stunning exhibits in this museum that I can only scratch the surface in this little blog post. It’s a natural history museum, an art gallery, and the ultimate place to learn about Alaska’s cultural diversity and unique history all rolled into one. I suspect I could go there every day for a month and still manage to learn something new.
You can see everything from taxidermy that really gives you a sense of what an overwhelming experience it would be to encounter a grizzly bear, to the most amazing fossils I’ve ever seen, including some mammoth tusks that were as big as I am. You can also gaze upon Blue Babe, a 36,000-year-old mummified Steppe Bison. If not for his horrifying wounds, you’d half expect him to jump to his feet and charge, bellowing, through the museum and out into the tundra.
But one of the most profound experiences I had in the museum was in The Place Where You Go to Listen. To quote the website, it is “a unique sound and light environment created by Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams. This ever-changing musical ecosystem gives voice to the rhythms of daylight and darkness, the phases of the moon, the seismic vibrations of the earth, and the dance of the aurora borealis.” The sound that I got to hear was haunting. Check out a few sound samples here.
If you ever get the chance to visit Fairbanks, and can only do one thing while there, I strongly urge you to check out University of Alaska Museum of the North. You’ll be glad you did.