University of Alaska Museum of the North

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Cup'ik kayak stanchions in the museum collection, from Chevak. UA82-003-0057AB.
Current museum building

The University of Alaska Museum of the North is a cultural and historical museum on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.


The museum's mission is to acquire, conserve, investigate, and interpret specimens and collections relating to the natural, artistic, and cultural heritage of Alaska and the Circumpolar North. Through education, research, and public exhibits, the museum serves the state, national, and international science programs. The museum develops and uses botanical, geological, zoological, and cultural collections; these collections form the basis for understanding past and present issues unique to the North and meeting the challenges of the future.

Founding and history[edit]

Signer's Hall at UAF. From the early 1960s to 1980 it was the home to the museum, before moving to the West Ridge of the campus.

The museum, formerly known as the University of Alaska Museum, was housed in what is now known as Signers' Hall for much of its history.[1] It was mandated as part of the original legislation establishing the university in 1917. In 1924, Charles E. Bunnell, then-president of the university, directed Otto Geist to collect items for display in the museum. The museum had no one single location until 1936, when it was housed in Signers' Hall. Before that, the collections were displayed or stored in several locations around the campus.

Over time, the collections overflowed the space, and a capital campaign was begun in 1975 to build a new museum. The campaign was completed in 2001 and the new building opened to the public in late 2005,[1] with some galleries opening in 2006.

In September 2020, the museum became the permanent home of Chris McCandless's final resting place, Bus 142, which had been removed from its previous location along the Stampede Trail in June of that year citing safety issues. The bus will be restored and an outdoor exhibit will be created.[2][3][4][5][6]


Tlingit Chilkat robe in the collection, from Klukwan. UA69-061-0001
  • Alaska Center for Documentary Film
  • Alaska Frozen Tissue Collection
  • Arctic Archival Observatory
  • Archeology Collections
  • Earth Sciences Collection
  • Entomology Collection
  • Ethnology Collection
  • History Collection
  • Fine Arts Collection
  • Herbarium
  • Fish, Amphibian, and Reptile Collections
  • Mammal Collection
  • Marine Invertebrates Collection
  • Bird Collection

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Mission and History". University of Alaska Museum of the North. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  2. ^ "Bus 142 | Museum of The North". University of Alaska. September 24, 2020. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  3. ^ Osborne, Ryan. "Famous McCandless 'Bus 142' moved to UAF's Museum of the North". Alaska's News Source. Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  4. ^ "Alaska National Guard airlifts "Into the Wild" bus from Stampede Trail".
  5. ^ "Nearly 30 years after 'Into the Wild' hiker's death, infamous bus removed from Alaska wilderness". KTVA. June 18, 2020. Archived from the original on June 21, 2020. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
  6. ^ Holland, Eva (June 18, 2020). "Alaska Airlifts 'Into the Wild' Bus Out of the Wild". Outside Online. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
  7. ^ Winker, Kevin; Kessel, Quentin Cattell; Gibson, Daniel D. (1 October 2016). "Brina Cattell Kessel, 1925–2016". The Auk. 133 (4): 820–821. doi:10.1642/AUK-16-139.1.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 64°51′31″N 147°50′32″W / 64.8585°N 147.8423°W / 64.8585; -147.8423