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Discover the Music of the Earth at University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum of the North

by Eugenia Lazaris

Nov 13, 2023

© Eugenia Lazaris

Destinations / North America

Museums are always a great opportunity for family travelers to discover art, history and culture, but at University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum of the North, you’ll find something extraordinary — the sounds of the earth itself.


The museum is home to incredible collections related to the art, science, culture and history of Alaska, but it is also home to an exhibit that makes it stand out from all of its contemporaries. The Place Where You Go To Listen is an exhibit like no other. Created by Grammy- and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams, this intriguing room on the museum’s second floor is an experiment of both light and sound. 


While the room is simple (white walls with an unassuming bench placed in the center of the room), it emanates a light and sound display synced with the geophysical forces of the earth and its surrounding atmosphere. Lights and sounds are not pre-recorded — they are created by the rhythms of nature from the phases of the moon, the seismic vibrations of the earth and the electrical activity creating the phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis. 


The lights and music change as the seasons do, as the time of day does and as things like Aurora activity increase. The result is an experience that is never the same twice. You are encouraged to remain quiet while inside the room so the experience isn’t disrupted for other visitors, but you will find staying quiet is quite easy. From the moment you cross the threshold, you will find yourself entranced by a one of-a-kind ecosystem created from pure sound and light.


The museum is open daily with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Regular admission is $16 with various discounts for children, seniors and active-duty military.


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