Part of my dissertation research at UAF involves a deep dive into the history of the UA Museum of the North, from its inception in 1926 to the current iteration as a world-class interdisciplinary research museum. One of the most exciting parts of doing this historical research is finding old photos of the museum and its former employees.

Here are a few of my faves, including some described by Martin!

A visitor enjoys the wooly mammoth exhibit at the UA Museum during its home in Signers’ Hall, 1969.
The UA Museum exhibit of the albino moose and standing brown bear (now known as “Otto”), when the museum occupied the Eielson Memorial Building between the 1930s and 1963.
The cultural collections on display at the UA Museum in the Eielson Building, ca. 1951. UAF Archives, 2004-111-1140.
The UA Museum’s brown bear, displayed in “captivity” in the Signers’ Hall exhibit area, 1969.

3 Thoughts to “Blasts from the Past”

  1. Martin Gutoski

    Thanks for the ancient images of the museum when it was in the Eielson third floor and the old gym (which I mistakenly named Constitution Hall not the Signers admin bldg). Seeing that old photo of the Eielson room brought back vivid memories of the squeaking wooden floorboards and the smell of wood and glass cabinets with a slight musty smell. I especially recall those pull down blinds that would suddenly retract violently if you did not pull the stringed loop to lock them down. They could be a bear to reinstall if they crashed to the floor as difficult as trying to put new fluorescent tubes back in their fixture with a ladder. I don’t recall now if those beautiful hanging glass lamps have been replaced by a drop ceiling.
    One thing I recall is a rock or even a slate oil lamp being used as a doorstop to an adjacent room.

  2. Martin Gutoski

    I can’t recall if the double headed caribou calf is on display at the museum now? But I think it was only the heads not the full mount like the albino moose.
    The longtime director of the museum when it was in Signers Hall was a fellow with the first name of Hedrick, Hendrick, Cedric or Kendrick (?) maybe a Brit or some other English gent or East Coaster who drove a vintage wooden sided MG convertible parked there maybe in a reserved space.
    When the Eielson Bldg version of the museum was moved to Signers the old gym was now big enough to build the large displays of indigenous peoples dwellings and dioramas. Especially with the upper 2nd floor gallery which now has the glassed in admin offices that overlook the registrar and bursar below.

  3. Barbara Long

    Good evening,

    I enjoyed your post. I remember the Big Bear.I was given a tour when I first met my Department Chair. The photos bring back memories. Great examples of UAF museum but there is so much more to love about all the collections. There is not enough time in the day to take it all in. Thanks for sharing!

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