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Museum plans to reopen gallery this weekend

Submitted by Kerynn Fisher
Phone: (907) 474-6941

05/09/05

Just in time for Fairbanks' summer visitor season and UAF's commencement weekend, the University of Alaska Museum of the North plans to reopen its Gallery of Alaska to visitors on Saturday, May 14.

The re-opening comes after a ten-week closure for renovations to the Gallery of Alaska, the museum's primary exhibit hall. The renovations, part of the museum expansion project, included the installation of new carpeting, air handling system, lighting and sprinklers, as well as a fresh coat of paint in the gallery. During the closure, contractors also installed new granite tile in the museum's existing lobby.

The reopening coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Gallery of Alaska, which first opened to visitors in May 1980. Divided into sections representing Alaska's major cultural and geographic regions, the gallery features exhibits on Alaska's people, wildlife, geography and history. Highlights include Alaska's largest public display of gold, extensive displays of Alaska Native art and artifacts, and Blue Babe, the world's only mummified steppe bison and the museum's most famous resident.

"The Gallery of Alaska is a wonderful introduction to this vast and diverse state, and we're thrilled to be able to reopen it in time for the summer visitor season," says Museum Director Aldona Jonaitis. "It's a testament to the gallery's design team that the exhibits are just as accurate, informative and engaging as they were when the gallery first opened 25 years ago."

In addition to the long-term exhibits, visitors will enjoy the featured exhibit, Images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. In the exhibit, two poster-sized images taken by Hubble and an accompanying DVD presentation celebrate Hubble's 15 years of space discoveries. As part of a nationwide celebration of the 15th anniversary of the deployment of the space telescope in April 1990, approximately 100 museums, planetariums and science centers across the country were selected to display the materials. The University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks and the Kalifonski Beach Elementary School in Kasilof are the only Alaska sites. The museum exhibit and related educational materials will be incorporated into the museum's school tour programs during the 2005-06 school year.

The museum's summer hours - 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily - will take effect when the museum reopens and will be extended through September 30. Work on the museum's new wing and renovations to the original building continue this summer, with plans in the works for a September 10 ribbon cutting ceremony and community open house to celebrate the museum expansion project. Grand opening festivities will continue through the fall and winter to highlight different aspects of the expanded museum. For an updated list of programs and events, please visit the museum online at http://www.uaf.edu/museum.