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Alaska State Museum reopens with new exhibit

Alaska State Museum, Juneau
Alaska State Museum, Juneau(Alaska State Museum)
Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 2:09 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - After closing their doors and shielding their exhibits from the public’s eyes due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Alaska State Museum in Juneau and the Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka will be temporarily back open from Dec. 29 through Jan. 2. The public can visit both museums from noon to 4 p.m.

Debuting for the first time in person is a new exhibit featuring transformed everyday objects called “Mitch Did This.” These everyday objects in this solo exhibit, created by Juneau-based artist Mitch Watley, include things such as airstreams and astronauts, but they have a twist. The sculptures are meticulously molded into complex dioramas that often depict futuristic landscapes, taking upwards of a year to make.

Out Again, I See, 2015
Out Again, I See, 2015(Mitch Watley)

Above, you see one of Watley’s creations. If you look closely, you’ll see that there’s more to the scene than just astronauts and an airstream.

“I’ve always liked the look of old airstream trailers and wondered what they would look like with crab-like robot legs instead of wheels. The chickens needed helmets,” Watley says, “The leaves on the vines were glued in place one by one. The idea of a spaceman drinking while wearing a helmet amused me … One idea led to another.”

Orbital Rescue at Maintenance Hatch 20 Amber, 2017
Orbital Rescue at Maintenance Hatch 20 Amber, 2017(Sarah Asper-Smith )

Above is another one of Watley’s diagrams, called “Orbital Rescue at Maintenance Hatch 20 Amber.” The inspiration for this one, Watley says, was his own experience with flying, saying, “We in Juneau all have to fly a lot if we want to visit just about anywhere, and I like looking out the window at the ground and the shadows created by the clouds, and I had about five hours to think of a way to recreate that for a diorama before I touched down at my destination.”

Due to reduced capacity because of COVID-19, the museum says they highly recommend calling to make an appointment to ensure a visit.

The public should also be aware that admission fees will rise in the new year. For all that information or to contact Visitor Services, visit their website.

Both the Alaska State Museum and the Sheldon Jackson Museum will be closed for New Year’s Day on Jan. 1.

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