One of the most popular exhibits at the Anchorage Museum is shutting down for a major remodel. Visitors won’t be able to see the Alaska Gallery till it reopens next year following a $13 million facelift.

Collections director Monica Shah said the exhibit first opened in 1986, but some of the historical items in the collection are more than 100 years old. Time, she said, has taken its toll.

“It’s really hard on objects, they fade in the light, they get damage from dust,” Shah said. “They need some tender care.”

Workers will spend the next few days carefully removing items from the gallery and transfer them to a conservation lab on the first floor. There, they will be catalogued and cleaned before being stored. Shah said when finished, the new Alaska Gallery will look very different from the old. There will still be historical items, but the exhibit will have a more modern feel.

“The goal is, instead of being so time-based, we are going to be talking about themes,” Shah said. “We are going to be talking about people and land and Alaska as a place. And then we will be able to bring it to today and continue it so in five years it’s not so outdated.”

The new Alaska Gallery is scheduled to open in September 2017. Shah said that is the same time the museum will finish a separate expansion project that will add a whole new wing for visitors to see.

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