The Alaska State Museum at 395 Whittier Street, a 10-minute walk from the cruise ship docks, is one of the best museums in the state, with Native, mining, fishing, and Russian displays, as well as traveling art and cultural exhibits.
A circular ramp surrounds the museum's tribute to the state's wildlife, including a life-size eagle's nest that rests atop a two-story tree. The gallery that showcases the culture of Northwest Coast Indians - the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples - is in the form of a clan house, built from Sitka spruce with traditional Native carvings and paintings.
A short climb up the hill from Juneau's waterfront brings you to the Juneau-Douglas City Museum at Fourth and Main streets. Two totem poles sit in the small landscaped park, where on July 4, 1959, the first Alaska flag was raised, celebrating statehood.
The East Gallery focuses on Juneau's mining history and the life of pioneers in the Gastineau Channel area. A 5-by-7 foot relief map provides an eagle's-eye view of the region. You can also put your feet up and watch the documentary video "Juneau: City Built on Gold," or view digital stories of Juneau as Alaska's state capital on an interactive kiosk.
A short drive or an enjoyable 45-minute stroll (watch for bears, porcupines, and eagles along the way) to the end of Basin Road brings you to the Last Chance Mining Museum.
The hands-on museum is in a building associated with the Alaska-Juneau Gold Mining Co., which operated in Juneau from 1912 until 1944. It features original tools, machines, and infrastructure of what was once the world's largest and most advanced hard-rock gold mine. Displays in the mine's old service center include antiques, minerals, and a three-dimensional glass map of the mine shafts and caves inside the mountain.