This semester I plan on doing my project on the topic of exploration. This might seem to be somewhat of a broad topic but I feel that it fits well with what the museum has to offer. When wandering through the art gallery portion of the museum I noticed that the overall theme of the exhibits had somewhat of a resemblance to that of exploration. To be even more specific though, I picked exploration as my topic due to finding the picture “Guardians of the Valley” by A.W. “Bill” Brody. This picture reminded me of stories that I grew up with about mountain men and exploration of the American west. I remember hearing stories of men such as Daniel Boone and David Crockett and their exploits as they fought and died exploring and settling the western lands of America. Closer to home, the open country, the high mountains and free ranges are part of the oral and written history of North America including to the gold rush in Alaska and the Klondike. While there are certainly tainted parts of our history (the conquering of natives and loss of their rights and land), some of the stories of exploration and mountain men are amazing.
Exploration is a major theme in early American historical accounts, tall tales, poetry, and more recent fiction of the west and Alaska by authors such as Robert Service, Jack London, James Michener, and even Louis L’Amour. I remember stories from childhood of Johnny Appleseed, a historical account surrounded by myth, and the tall tales of the fictional characters Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill (a western Paul Bunyan). The continued interest in historical and fictional accounts of exploration in popular literature indicate that the general audience will also be interested in this. Many authors pull inspiration from these tales to tell their own. And people go to these authors for those reasons (sometimes whether they know this or not).
My topic of exploration will enhance the museum, in that, the Alaska Museum of the North is all about exploration. One way to view the museums is that its collections reflect the exploration and development of Alaska and the history of the indigenous peoples, as shown through the light of exploration and the explorers.