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Tongass Historical Museum

629 Dock St., Ketchikan, Alaska

The history, art, and culture of Ketchikan and Southeast Alaska are preserved and promoted by the Tongass Historical Museum, whose permanent collection includes artifacts and tools that originated in Alaska Native communities, historical items from Ketchikan’s fishing industry, and an excellent selection of photographic material.

To get a better understanding of the history and culture of Ketchikan and Tongass National Forest, begin your visit with a trip to the Tongass Historical Museum. The small exhibit space takes visitors through the town’s evolution from an Indigenous summer fish camp to a gold-mining boomtown to the tourist destination it is today. An outdoor observation platform offers views of Ketchikan Creek Falls. Many walking tours of downtown Ketchikan include a stop at the museum, especially those with a historic angle. Museum admission also gives you entry to the Totem Heritage Center.

  • The Tongass Historical Museum is a must-see for history buffs and first-time visitors.

  • Museum admission is free for local residents and visitors aged 17 and under.

  • Give yourself 45–60 minutes to visit the museum’s permanent and rotating exhibits.

The Tongass Historical Museum is on Dock Street, which runs parallel to Creek Street in downtown Ketchikan. It’s a 10-minute walk from the cruise ship docks. In the summer, you can also take the free Salmon Run shuttle bus to the museum.

The museum is open for afternoon visits daily from May to September, and Tuesday–Saturday from October to April. It's best to give yourself plenty of time for a visit, so you can also take a walk around the nearby Totem Heritage Center.

After you’ve toured the Tongass Historical Museum's exhibits, be sure to stop by the Totem Heritage Center (included in the same ticket). This museum has the world’s largest collection of unrestored totem poles from the 19th century, as well as other objects reflecting Alaska Native cultures, including baskets, regalia, carvings, masks, and a collection of historic photographs.


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