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Checking out the exhibits at the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks
Patricia Fisher
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    Alaska

Visit these must-see museums and cultural attractions to discover Fairbanks history and culture.

The cultural fabric of Fairbanks, Alaska is inextricably tied to its history – from the Alaska Native populations that have inhabited the region for thousands of years to the Gold Rush era and the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Get to know Fairbanks’ unique stories at these specialty museums and cultural attractions.

Alaska Native Culture

Alaska Native cultures include 11 groups, generally distinguished by their unique languages. The Athabascans are original inhabitants of the state’s Interior and their musical culture is celebrated at the Athabascan Fiddlers Festival, held in November. Elders and younger generations play traditional and updated Athabascan fiddle music while locals light up the dance floor.

The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics hosts sports that challenge participants’ strength, balance, agility and endurance. The competitions held during this July event are rooted in ancestral hunting and survival practices from various Alaska Native groups.

See colorful dance performances, shop for authentic arts and crafts, and attend workshops on Alaska Native cultural practices at the Festival of Native Arts. Held annually in March, this free festival takes place on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.

Competing at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics

Competing at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics
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Sherman Hogue/Explore Fairbanks
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Explore Local Museums

Whether you want to learn about natural history, local art or even see antique cars, you’ll be delighted by Fairbanks’ array of museums.

As a research museum, the University of Alaska Museum of the North preserves the natural, cultural and art history of Alaska though more than 1.5 million artifacts and specimens. See 2,000 years of Alaskan art, the largest display of gold in the state and a 50,000-year-old mummified bison. With a visually striking white exterior of curves and peaks, the building is an architectural interpretation of Alaska’s natural landscape.

Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum is home to more than 85 pre-World War II antique vehicles – one dating to 1898! Alongside the cars are period-specific costumes, vintage photographs and informational plaques. This is one of Fairbanks’ most popular attractions and a definite must-see.

Learn about native art, music and stories at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center. Life-sized dioramas depict life in the Interior and Arctic throughout the seasons. Be sure to get a photo of the antler arch outside, a decorative arch made of more than 100 moose and caribou antlers.

Discovering natural history with the family at a local museum

Discovering natural history with the family at a local museum
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Sherman Hogue/Explore Fairbanks

Colorful Arts & Entertainment

All year long, Fairbanks offers entertainment ranging from art festivals to concerts. The Fairbanks Arts Association hosts a variety of literary, performing and visual arts events including monthly First Friday events. For live performances, check the calendar at Fairbanks Concert Association, Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and the Fairbanks Drama Association. Winter and summer solstice bring major festivals to celebrate these seasonal transitions – one for the day the sun barely rises, and one for the day that the sun never sets.

An aerial view of one of downtown Fairbanks’ festive events

An aerial view of one of downtown Fairbanks’ festive events
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Sherman Hogue/Explore Fairbanks

Getting There

Fly into Fairbanks International Airport (FAI) from a variety of national and international destinations. Rentals cars, shuttles and taxi service are readily available at the airport.