For its size, Valdez Museum (217 Egan Dr., 907/835-2764, www.valdezmuseum.org, daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m. May–mid-Sept., Mon.–Sat. 1–5 p.m. mid-Sept.–Apr.), right in the middle of town, has an extraordinary number of comprehensive displays. Check out the fascinating photo display on the pipeline’s impact, and the early black-and-whites. Some rare early maps and charts include a Russian one from 1737; look for the beautiful engraving by Webber, Captain Cook’s prolific ship’s artist.
Informative displays illustrate Native Alaskan, mining, and military history, but two beautifully restored fire pumpers—one from 1886—are the striking centerpieces, along with the lens from Cape Hinchinbrook Lighthouse. There’s a small section from the hull of the Exxon Valdez, but surprisingly little information on that disaster.
Remembering Old Valdez Exhibit
Close to the ferry terminal, the Remembering Old Valdez Exhibit (436 S. Hazelet St., 907/835-5407, daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m. mid-May–early Sept.) is a warehouse full of earthquake exhibits, including a sprawling 1:20 scale replica of Valdez as it appeared before the big one hit in 1964. You can also watch a video on the quake, check out the 1950 Wurlitzer, and watch the seismograph for more activity. There’s even a 1950s Civil Defense Jeep on display. One entrance fee ($5 adults, $4.50 seniors, $4 ages 14–18, younger children free) gets you into both the Valdez Museum and the Remembering Old Valdez Exhibit.
The Whitney Museum (303 Lowe St., 907/834-1690, www.pwscc.edu, daily 9 a.m.–7 p.m. May–mid-Sept., $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 kids) is a brand-new facility adjacent to Prince William Sound Community College. Housed here are items collected over several decades by Jeese and Maxine Whitney, including trophy big-game mounts, an Eskimo kayak and umiak, and a wide range of elaborate Native Alaskan fur parkas, baskets, masks, dolls, and beautifully carved ivory pieces.
Of particular interest is a large and elaborate model ship built of ivory and baleen; the Smithsonian Museum once attempted to purchase the piece. All told, Whitney Museum houses one of the largest collections of Native Alaskan art and artifacts anywhere. The museum also shows several videos, including one on the building of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition