Sheldon Jackson Museum
Farther along the waterfront are the distinctive brown and white buildings of Sheldon Jackson College. Established in 1878 as a place to train Native Alaskans, this was the oldest educational institution in the state. It closed in 2007. Still open is the outstanding Sheldon Jackson Museum (907/747-8981, www.museums.state.ak.us, daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m. mid-May–mid-Sept., Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. mid-Sept.–mid-May, $4, students free).
Dr. Sheldon Jackson (1834–1909) worked as both a Presbyterian missionary and as the first General Agent for Education in Alaska. His extensive travels throughout the territory 1888–1898 allowed him to acquire thousands of Eskimo, Athabascan, Tlingit, Haida, and Aleut artifacts. To protect this priceless collection, a fireproof museum (the first concrete structure in Alaska) was built here in 1895.
The Sheldon Jackson Museum houses a remarkable selection of kayaks, hunting tools, dogsleds, baskets, bentwood boxes, Eskimo masks, and other artifacts. Be sure to check out the drawers of artifacts beneath the display cases.
Also here is a small gift shop selling quality Alaskan jewelry, crafts, and note cards. Native Alaskan artisans are often at work inside the museum during the summer.
Across the street is the Sheldon Jackson Aquarium (907/747-8878, www.sjhatchery.org, daily 8 a.m.–5 p.m. summer only, free), with an 800-gallon saltwater aquarium and three touch tanks to get up close to tide pool creatures.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition