Anchorage Alaska – Native art secrets

Alaska Native Medical Center - An unusual place for extraordinary art

Alaska is an isolated and beautiful place. When you travel, it’s fun to bring back local souvenirs and collectibles. A recent trip to Anchorage, Alaska was full of natural beauty, amazing wildlife and learning about Alaskan Native culture and art.

So you’ll not be surprised to learn that we went shopping for authentic Alaskan art. But what might surprise you is where we found it!

It was at the Alaska Native Arts Foundation, which is a good place to shop too, that I heard about a special place where you can find reasonably priced, highly collectible Alaska Native art. They reassured me that authenticity was guaranteed and went on to explain that the halls of this very special place were filled with inspiring displays of regional Native arts and crafts. So was this a museum? No… I quickly found out that I was being directed to a hospital!

Alaska Native Art

Alaska Native Art

The Alaska Native Medical Center was located within walking distance of where I was staying, the University of Alaska campus. I took a walk along tree-lined streets, through a wetland area and up to a side door of the hospital. Once inside, I realized what a treasure this was, both for the Native patients and for visitors who enjoy seeing Native American art.

The Alaska Native Hospital had art at every turn in the hallway.

The Alaska Native Hospital had art at every turn in the hallway.

The halls were lined with beautifully displayed and labeled works of Native art. Even the cafeteria had Alaskan-inspired cuisine. How many of us have found salmon or reindeer meat at a hospital cafeteria!

As I explored the art-filled hallways I found the gift shop. It was open! It had been explained to me that the gift shop is not open on a daily basis and so a visit must be planned ahead. I was also told that this was THE place to buy Alaska Native jewelry and art pieces. Once inside the crowded shop, I was elbow to elbow with collectors.

The patient volunteers took time to explain the pieces to us… the significance, what they were made of and who the artist was. Selling was brisk. I was told that the shop purchases directly from artists and then adds only 20% to that for the selling price. The 20% is then returned to the hospital to purchase life-saving equipment and enhancements for patients. It was a win-win for all.

Gift Shop Hours

Alaska Native Hospital Gift Shop - A great place to purchase native art.

Alaska Native Hospital Gift Shop - A great place to purchase native art.

The Auxiliary operates the Gift Shop where you may buy a variety of Alaska Native art. The Gift Shop is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and the first and third Saturday of each month from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

It is best to call ahead. The main hospital phone number is: 907.563.2662

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