Slideshow: Alaska State Museum demolition

An excavator crunches and breaks down interior debris at the entrance of the Alaska State Museum. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Large loader with claws pushes out debris from inside the Alaska State Museum while an excavator breaks it down for loading into waiting trucks. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

An excavator picks up debris at the entrance of the Alaska State Museum while a worker uses a hose to keep down the dust. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Foundation work is already underway on the south side of SLAM. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Workers prepare for construction of the foundation for the south portion of SLAM. The Alaska State Museum and some of the concrete panels can be seen in the left background while an excavator picks up interior debris in the center upper background. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Workers erect rebar for the south portion of the SLAM foundation. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Workers erect forms and supports for rebar and concrete work on the south portion of the SLAM facility. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Foundation construction is also underway on the west side of the Alaska State Museum adjacent to the new SLAM vault. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

View of the west side of Alaska State Museum and opening that was formerly used as a tunnel entrance for transporting artifacts to the SLAM vault. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Contractors on Thursday demolished and removed the covered, front entrance of the 47-year-old Alaska State Museum in Juneau. They were scooping up all of the interior debris and hauling it away for disposal on Friday. Heavy equipment inside the building pushed out the interior debris as an excavator broke it up and loaded it into a waiting truck.

“So, you’ll start to see some really radical moves there with the building being taken down,” said Bob Banghart, deputy director of the state Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums.

Banghart said there should be nothing remaining at the end of August except a big hole. The building is being torn down to make way for SLAM, or State Libraries Archives and Museum project that is underway in downtown Juneau.

Earlier this summer, all 32,000 artifacts in the Alaska State Museum were moved to the nearby SLAM vault, a hazardous material abatement crew worked to remove interior asbestos, and the green sculpture Nimbus was moved off site in preparation for restoration.

Banghart said his last walk earlier this summer through the old empty museum was fun, but he also noted that it was the passing of an era.

Excavators recently worked on bringing the south side of the property down to the ground level of the new structure, and foundation work is already underway. Banghart said contractors will try to carefully remove the museum’s concrete side panels as the building is demolished.

There’s a fracture line at the second-first floor union horizontally on a lot of them. There’s a steel plate that was cast into the panel that was welded onto the structural steel. They’ve got to reverse that installation process and the crane has to support the panel. The contractor is working on a methodology to do it as carefully and thoroughly as they can.”

Any asbestos on the backsides of the panels would have to be removed. But Banghart said the plan includes saving some of the panels.

We have earmarked two of them to be placed back-to-back in a special installation on the northeast corner (of SLAM property) perpendicular to Whittier Street.”

The $139 million SLAM project should be finished in the spring of 2016.