The following information was provided by the Museum of Transportation and Industry website, which can be found here
“The Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry (MATI) started in 1967 as the Air Progress Museum. It was a small collection of Alaskan transportation artifacts gathered for the centennial celebration of the United States purchasing Alaska from Russia in 1867. The exhibit was on International Airport Road in Anchorage.
It included six retired railroad cars that brought to Alaska as troop carriers during World War II. They were refurbished and filled with exhibits about Alaska’s transportation history. Those rail cars were named “The Centennial Train.” They became Alaska’s only rolling museum, traveling the rail belt from Seward to Fairbanks. The Centennial Train rested beside the museum for several years.
Fire forced the museum to close its doors in 1973.
Several years later, a determined group of Valley residents arranged for the remains of the museum’s collection, charred aircraft, and The Centennial Train to be moved to Palmer. They hauled all they could preserve to the new location. In 1976, a 15-year non-renewable lease was signed, giving the museum a three-acre corner on the Alaska State Fair grounds. Along with this move came a new name, “The Transportation Museum of Alaska.”
It was widely believed that within the 15 years the museum would be absorbed into the fair, the artifacts becoming attractions to entertain fair goers. However, some had a different vision of the future.
Alaska’s pioneer history proved interesting to visitors. The collection expanded and it became the “Alaska Historical and Transportation Museum.” People enjoyed looking at the old airplanes, trains, and tractors.
In the 1980s, with Alaska oil prosperity at its height, the State Legislature allocated expansion and operating funds to the museum. Governmental funding diminished over the years. The museum now receives no federal, state, or city funding.
The Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry is now a private, non-profit corporation, governed by a volunteer board of directors. It is funded by museum admissions, gift shop sales, and donations from our members and friends.
MATI moved to its present location in 1992. We now have over 20 acres. In addition to a large gallery, we have a train yard, rows and rows of outdoor artifacts, and an exhibit hall. Many of the artifacts in the museum were donated by individuals. Some are on loan to us from the military or other organizations.
MATI’s mission is the collection, conservation, restoration, exhibition, and interpretation of artifacts relating to Alaska’s transportation and industrial history. Education is at our core. The museum’s scope is statewide and the collections reflect that, encompassing Eskimo skin boats to jet aircraft.
The museum is open from Mother’s Day to Labor Day with people visiting from locations all over the world.”