Two years ago, the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature closed temporarily in the midst of a financial crisis.

It restructured and reopened and is now running in the black, but the Mountain View museum is still having trouble getting back on the public’s radar screen – but it’s trying hard.

“We’re a little bit more focused in terms of where we’re going,” says David Yesner, one of the museum’s board members.

Exhibits from James Havens, an artist who paints dinosaurs on giant canvases, has helped the museum reinvent itself.

Havens’ recent Alaska Sea Monster exhibit – a giant mural paired with real fossils – has been a big hit.

The museum has also cut down its hours to three days a week – Thursday, Friday and Saturday – although schools and other groups can make appointments to visit on other days.

Another big change: there are no longer any paid staffers. The museum is run by a group of about 10 volunteers, who have made it their passion project.

“I think that’s a big part of the story. They’re a small but dedicated group,” Yesner said. “It includes retired professors from the university and others with a definite science background.”

This museum is featured on this Sunday’s Frontiers program, “The Great Alaska Dinosaur Adventure.” It airs at 4:30 and 10:30 p.m. on KTVA-Channel 11.

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