Sunday, June 21, 2015

Anchorage, Metropolitan Alaska

Downtown Anchorage
With a population of over 300,000 people, we were impressed with the city of Anchorage as a very livable town with lots to offer.  Anchorage is a 4-time winner in the “100 Best Communities for Young People” list and I can see why – the city provides access to untold recreational opportunities and offers numerous hiking and biking trails, cultural activities, and city parks not to mention the fabulous waterfront views.  We saw chic restaurants, multi-story office buildings, the beautiful performing arts center, and two convention centers connected by a pedestrian walkway.  Anchorage was also named by Kiplinger as the most tax-friendly city in the U.S. and provides numerous job opportunities. 
The excellent Anchorage Museum is a must see; and of course Anchorage is a Mecca for pilots, Leonard’s favorite must see, but that’s another story.  Our next stop was the Anchorage Museum which has multiple floors with permanent and changing exhibits.  Most of our time was spent in the “Arctic Studies Center” and the Captain Cook & John Webber Exhibit. 
Fur and Leather Garmet
Rare and exquisite clothing and household artifacts are displayed in the Arctic Center demonstrating differences and similarities of various Native peoples:  the Yupik and Inupiaq, a branch of the Eskimo in northern and southwestern Alaska; the Abascanieyak a branch of the Athabascan of interior Alaska; the Tlingit and Haida of southeast and coastal Alaska; and the Eastern Siberian people.  
Gut Parka
Parkas, bags, and vessels made out of animal gut or Sea Lion intestines are beautiful as well as practical, and the clothing pieces made from animal fur, bark, and hide are equally fascinating.  
Gut Water Vessels
Displays are well organized with reference icons for each item so as to quickly identify their purpose, no need to hunt around for a numbered item which can be quite time consuming.  As active mariners, we made our way to the Captain Cook and John Webber Exhibit.  The more we read and the more sketches we saw, the more our mouths dropped open in disbelief  We had no idea that John Webber had made so many sketches of native peoples, places, and activities, what a treasure!  John Webber (1751-1793) was an English artist who accompanied Captain James Cook on his third voyage of discovery around the Pacific (1776-1780) aboard HMS Resolution.  
Drawing of Aluet Man, by Webber 

Man of Prince William Sound by Webber

Webber created detailed watercolor landscapes and drawings, basically acting as photographer for Cook’s expedition recording plants, animals, places, and people.  He completed a full portrait of Captain James Cook, an oil painting on canvass.  In his later years, Webber made regular tours, drawing landscapes in Britain and Europe and continued to do portraits and paint compositions based on his Pacific travels.  He died of kidney disease in 1793, leaving a considerable fortune.  
Man of Turnagain River, Prince William Sound
Webber's work can be seen in several museums throughout the world.

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