In the heart of a fully renovated pavilion at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center—Alaska’s largest museum—the new Alaska exhibition has just been unveiled. This exhibit was realized by Quebec company GSM Project, who were given the task of creating a new permanent exhibition to replace one that was conceived in the 1980s and that presented an outdated vision of Alaska. GSM Project was involved in all phases of development of the new gallery, from conception to production, and took an innovative contemporary approach, putting content centre-stage while using design as a medium through which to tell the story of Alaska as an immersive and interactive visitor experience. At a time when attention is turning North, particularly in relation to climate issues, the goal was to showcase Northernness and Alaskan identity in the face of environmental challenges and preconceived ideas of Indigenous culture.
Towards this end, GSM Project collaborated with the Museum’s team to create a decisively current and accessible experience, presenting Alaska through the lens of its residents, its geography, and its economy. The project represents new thinking about the ways museums represent culture and history: posing critical questions rather than assuming answers. The exhibition was designed to present to visitors how the past continues to speak to contemporary issues, including changes in Alaska’s population and landscape, and to encourage critical thinking. The process has included Anchorage Museum curators, conservators, exhibition designers, artists, historians, community members, educators, docents, and many others.
The existing exposition was completely dismantled and replaced by a more open and interactive space. In order to highlight the content, GSM Project worked with the Museum’s curators to reduce the number of artefacts on display from 1200 to 320, resulting in a clearer story. A new technological dimension also brings interactivity to the experience. The space now boasts video content, touch screens, and games that allow the visitor to better understand and appreciate the content.
About GSM Project
GSM Project specializes in the creation and production of visitor experiences. Based in Montreal, Canada, since its founding in 1958, the company also has offices in Dubai and Singapore and collaborates with a wide range of clients all over the world to create immersive, educational, and fun experiences. Over the course of its long history, GSM Project has designed exhibitions for major museums across the globe, such as the National Museum of Singapore, the Canadian History Hall in Ottawa (Canada), the Anchorage Museum (Alaska, United States), and the Museum of Civilization in Quebec City (Canada).
Project: Alaska Gallery
Client: Anchorage Museum
Location: Anchorage (Alaska, USA)
Mandate: Design, production supervision and installation
Project Director: François Bellehumeur
Creation Director: Nicolas St-Cyr
Production Director: Karine Chartrand
Area: 15,000 ft2
Duration: 36 months (3 years)
Public opening: 2017, September 15