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  • Monday, April 17, 2023 12:12 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    The Access to Alaska Native Collections (AANC) program responds to the needs of the Alaska Native artist community for access to Alaska Native collections in museums by supporting research visits to museum collections storage in Alaska. As such, Alaska Native artists were invited to propose a visit to a participating museum’s collection that has a clear benefit to the artist and the development of their work. 

    The grant covered travel costs for the collections visit—flights, ferries, mileage, per diem, lodging, parking, taxis, and family care needs—up to $2,500. There were six grants available.

    The grant program is made possible with funding from The CIRI Foundation’s A Journey to What Matters: Increased Alaska Native Art & Culture (JWM) funding and is administered by Museums Alaska on behalf of the Foundation. All inquiries must be directed to the Museums Alaska Director.

    Eligibility was limited to Alaska Native artists located in the state of Alaska.

    First Round 2023 AANC Grantees:

    Erin Ggaadimits Ivalu Gingrich was awarded an Access to Alaska Native Collections grant to visit the University of Alaska Museum of the North .

    Erin (Koyukon Athabascan and Inupiaq) is a carver, an interdisciplinary artist, and is expanding her practice to include other artforms and more complex narratives. She is currently pursuing her MFA, and the visit will allow her to engage in museum collections to ground her work in that of the Indigenous artists that have come before her.

    Erin hopes to visit a variety of collections including historical cultural belongings, photographs, carved objects, animal representations and animal specimens that are culturally connected to her many homelands and Indigenous heritage.

    You can learn more about Erin and her work at

    Golga Oscar was awarded an Access to Alaska Native Collections grant to visit the Anchorage Museum! During his visit, he intends to explore different forms of the Yup’ik collection ranging from headwear to footwear and capture them through the lens of photography.

    A self-taught artist with a huge passion for his culture and tradition, Golga enjoys revitalizing traditional designs with careful observation. Through revitalization, he observes the material, technique, and significance behind the clothing with a goal of bringing back what was once discontinued since the impact of westernization. Golga's goals are to pursue cultural awareness teaching and get into the fashion industry. He aims to showcase the Yup’ik cultural art and bring recognition of Yup'ik clothing and traditions to the “American” mainstream.

    Follow Golga on Instagram to learn more:

    Nicolette Corbett received an Access to Alaska Native Collections grant to visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center where she will be studying the piluguk/kameskak collection from the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta Region!
    Since Nikki started her sewing business, Sew Yup’ik, in the summer of 2015, it has taken off. In addition to creating and selling qaspeqs, bags of various sizes, and other small sewing pieces, she has taken on a new role teaching qaspeq workshops across the state of Alaska.

    In the last year, her focus has been to work on skin sewing projects and especially those that are of the lost art, like piluguks/kameksaks (hard sole bottom shoes). Creating piluguks is becoming a lost art, and Nikki is hoping to learn it so that she can share that knowledge with others and keep Yup’ik traditions alive.

    Learn more about Nikki and her work at

    Raktenga Elaine Kingeekuk was awarded a grant to visit the Alaska State Museum to collaborate with conservator Ellen Carrlee on gut conservation and care. Elaine will also spend time in collections storage freely opening cabinets and drawers to see and handle dolls, sewing tools, jewelry, toys, footwear, garments, and any other items in the museum collection that may promote her artistic and teaching goals.

    Elaine has been sewing dolls, baskets, clothing, boots, toys, and other small items since her childhood in Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island. She learned sewing and its cultural values from her mother (Ruthelle) and grandmother. In addition to teaching within her community, Elaine has been working with scholars and museums for nearly 20 years.

    While she is in Juneau, Elaine is considering hosting a public program at the museum, and getting the word out about a teaching studio she would like to open in Savoonga. Elaine will also take time to connect with old friends and the land through berry picking and other cultural activities.

    X̱’unei Lance Twitchell was awarded a grant to visit the Totem Heritage Center and Tongass Historical Museum in Ketchikan to study with Nathan Jackson while continuing to document his life and work through video and photo.

    He will work closely with staff of the Totem Heritage Center and the Tongass Historical Museum to organize visits with the intention of documenting both the work and Nathan Jackson’s comments on the artwork. He will also consult with Nathan Jackson on X̱’unei's own artwork and future projects.

    X̱ʼunei will also photograph the collections in the Totem Heritage Center and the Tongass Historical Museum for both individual artistic study and teaching at the University of Alaska Southeast and in workshops with the Goldbelt Heritage Foundation and Sealaska Heritage Institute.

    These visits will greatly increase X̱ʼunei's ability to continue to grow as a visual artist and to produce new works in design, sculpture, fashion, regalia, and more.

    Learn more about X̱’unei Twitchell at

    Qaadax̂ Chloe Bourdukofsky and Carter Price were awarded an Access to Alaska Native Collections grant to visit the Museum of the Aleutians! At the museum, they will visit the archives and pieces that include their family history and art.

    Qaadax̂ Chloe Bourdukofsky was culturally raised by her grandparents and great grandma who found it very important to teach her about Unangax̂ practices and values. They taught her how to speak some Unangam Tunuu, how to crochet, about traditional foods, and about an Unangax̂ way of life and community. To this day she wishes to continue to teach others about traditional Unangax̂ dance, sewing, foods and community life as her relatives did for her growing up.

    Over the past 2 years, Carter Price has begun creating Unangan model Iqyaxs (kayaks) to connect with his culture. More recently his art medium has taken form in ivory. He grew up connected to his culture, but only on a surface level. Since diving into his connection with culture and art, Carter’s overall well being has increased. His goal for the future generations is to provide a space separate from school, to connect, educate, and create whatever their passions are.

    Qaadax̂ and Carter hope to photograph artwork to learn from and share with their fellow Unangans in Unangam Tanangin who do not have this opportunity to visit. The visit will also provide a wonderful opportunity to visit with relatives on Iluulux̂ (Unalaska) to gain oral information on Unangax̂ history, stories and art to also connect with the local Unangans on the Island.

    Learn more about Qaadax̂ at

  • Wednesday, November 23, 2022 5:59 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    We are happy to announce our second round of Alaska Art Fund (AAF) and Collections Management Fund (CMF) grantees! In this round, we are awarding $201,714.17 to eleven museums and cultural organizations across Alaska.

    As always, a huge thank you goes out to Rasmuson Foundation for their continued support for these important grant programs! 

    We also want to thank our amazing panelists who spent their personal time to carefully consider the applications and have provided thoughtful advice and comments for each applicant.

    And without further ado, congratulations to the following grant recipients!

    Collections Management Fund - Round 2 Grants - $127,314.17

    • $13,850 - The Anchorage Museum will provide conservation assistance to recently exposed and damaged cultural heritage from the Nunalleq site and train community members and staff of the Nunalleq Cultural Center.

    • $8,302.75 - Ketchikan Museums will replace the last of the 1980's and 1990's inefficient, incandescent lighting in the lower level gallery of the Totem Heritage Center, allowing them to meet light level standards and provide a higher level of collections care.

    • $19,913.36 - The Alutiiq Museum & Archeological Repository will move collections off-site, starting with stone artifacts stored in the basement, in preparations for the renovation of AMAR facilities starting in mid-2023.

    • $19,985.91 - The Eagle Historical Society and Museums will assess and conserve a pair of moosehide drapes and seven ecclesiastic textiles that have been in use or displayed since 1899/1900 in Eagle's historic St Paul's Church.

    • $9,342.15 - The Museum of the Aleutians will complete an inventory, cataloging, photographing, and rehousing project for their World War II Artifact Collection.

    • $19,920 - The Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association will work with a conservator to provide professional treatment for 12 baskets, assess 16 culturally significant items, and provide staff preventative care training.

    • $20,000 - The Alaska Law Enforcement Museum will work with a conservator to complete an assessment survey of the textiles and clothing in their collection and to host a workshop on the care of textiles and clothing for themselves and several local museums.

    • $16,000 - The Cape Fox Cultural Foundation will move 1899 Edward H. Harriman Expedition artifacts—repatriated by the Sanyaa Kwáan belonging to the Teikweidi and Neix.ádi clans. They are currently in a location with insufficient protection from the elements and will be moved to a safer location.

    Alaska Art Fund - Round 2 Grants - $74,400

    • $9,000 - The Alutiiq Museum & Archeological Repository will commission a contemporary snow-falling parka from Kodiak Alutiiq Elder and master skin sewer Susan Malutin to fill a significant gap in their collection.

    • $3,000 - Ketchikan Museums will acquire Killerwhale Spirit Button Robe Collar, by Janice L. Jackson (Aanchgwanutk') to fill a significant gap in their collection.

    • $1,200 - The Museum of the Aleutians will commission a woven grass basket from Akutan weaver Antoinette (Tina) Kudrin Gauen depicting the Islands of the Fours Mountains, a sacred place to the Unangax^. The piece will fill a gap in their basket collection.

    • $10,000 - The Anchorage Museum will commission a large-scale 3’ x 5’ woodblock print by Iñupiaq artist Sarah Ayaqi Whalen-Lunn depicting a woman bound and tethered by ropes, hanging from a uterus. The piece was created as a reflection of “current issues and how women’s bodies are used against them,” and is being added to the Anchorage Museum’s collection to represent an artist’s response to the historic 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court ruling.

    • $5,000 - The Alaska State Museum will acquire This One by artist Sara Tabbert, consisting of two 20"x16" cradled panels, of natural and dyed veneer on carved panel, relief printing. The acquisition will fufill the museum’s goal of collecting a Tabbert piece, expanding their woodworking and relief carving collection, and enhancing their collection of artists outside of SE Alaska.

    • $35,000 - The Alaska Native Heritage Center will acquire the piece, Indian Children Bracelets, by preeminent Tlingit and Unangax artist, Nicholas Galanin. The engraved artwork is a resurfaced pair of tiny handcuffs that visually conceptualize the removal of Indigenous children from their families during the Boarding School era (1860-1978). The piece will fill several gaps in their collection and assist them in telling the story of the Boarding School era. 

    • $1,200 - The Cordova Museum will acquire Mt Eccles, a large 31” x 55” energetic, mixed media painting by Sharlene Cline with beautiful brushwork of Mt. Eccles, a signature Cordova Mountain. The piece will enhance their collection as it features a medium not currently represented in their collection and the painting is of an iconic, local geographical feature.

    • $10,000 - The Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association will commission a set of four traditional visors by Alaskan artist Okalena Patricia Lekanoff-Gregory. In Southwestern Alaska, there are very few of these traditional visors in the communities, so the organization is building their traditional arts collection to display and share these commissions with tribal members and aspiring artists in their communities.

    Congratulations to everyone on their success

  • Tuesday, October 04, 2022 11:21 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    This year we had four openings on the board. Voting was opened to members, and they chose the following four nominees (listed here with their bios from the ballot) to join the board in 2023. 

    One board member, Sarah Harrington, is departing our board one year early, so Christine Carpenter will fill her vacancy in 2023 and will have the opportunity to renominate herself for reelection for the 2024-2026 term.

    Congratulations our new and returning board members! We look forward to working with you to  better serve the museum and cultural center community across the state.

    We also want to send a huge thank you to Sarah Harrington and Sarah Asper-Smith for all they have done to professionalize and grow Museums Alaska over these past five and six years. You have both done amazing work on the board and we will miss you!

    2023-2025 Term

    Bethany Buckingham Follett (incumbent)

    Bethany has been a board member for the past three years. There is still a lot she would like to accomplish for MA members. Museums and cultural centers have assisted communities throughout COVID and current events through learning from the past to impact the present and prepare for the future. Museums Alaska is constantly evolving with its members and board to meet the membership where they are and where they want to be. Meet the changes and challenges together through Museums Alaska and help your board move Alaska forward to support Alaska's communities, visitors and supporters. You are Museums Alaska!

    Sarah Owens (incumbent)

    Sarah Owens is a conservator with specialist knowledge of basketry, textiles and clothing. She established Interwoven Fibers LLC, an Alaskan based conservation business in 2018. Sarah has been fortunate to travel, providing assistance in conservation, preservation and exhibit preparation services, to various museums and cultural centers in Alaska. Through outreach projects she works with artists to better understand materials. This helps to understand condition issues and preserve objects for future generations. She is passionate about sharing collections care practices to other professionals and also enjoys the challenges of working with exhibit forms as a bridge between conservation needs and respectful presentation of cultures. Sarah wants to continue serving on the board of Museums Alaska, as they help museums and cultural centers around the state. Through working independently Sarah has a unique position to build connections and glean perspective of where this help is most needed.

    Nadia Jackinsky-Sethi

    Nadia Jackinsky-Sethi is an art historian and museum consultant based in Homer, Alaska. She currently serves as a program director for the Journey to What Matters: Increased Alaska Native Art & Culture program at The CIRI Foundation. A Ninilchik Tribal member, Nadia is passionate about increasing opportunities for Alaska Native involvement in museum work and correcting information in museum records. She also loves visiting historical collections of Alaska Native art and helping to connect collections with community. Nadia has a PhD in art history from the University of Washington.

    Completing Sarah Harrington's term in 2023 and can be re-elected in 2023 for the 2024-2026 term.

    Christine Carpenter

    Christine Carpenter is passionate about museums. As a designer, artist, and project manager, Christine uses her skills to work collaboratively with museums to find opportunities and limit challenges. After completing her MFA in Museum Exhibition Planning & Design, she relocated to Juneau to work with ExhibitAK, an exhibit design firm. She still works with ExhibitAK while also maintaining her own company, Liaise Studio: a planning, design, and art firm. Christine uses design and art as a tool to communicate, distill, and better understand the world around us. In collaboration with the communities she serves, she has designed exhibits, websites, interpretive panels, and master plans all over the state. After more than 10 years of working with museums across Alaska, Christine is in a unique position to serve on the Museums Alaska board: she understands the broad needs and opportunities facing Alaskan museums. She would be honored to continue to support museums in this new capacity.

  • Tuesday, July 05, 2022 1:12 PM | Selena Ortega-Chiolero (Administrator)

    First Alaskans Institute (FAI), a statewide Alaska Native nonprofit, is working with Museums Alaska to host a cohort of museum professionals committed to reimagining and fostering meaningful relationships with Alaska’s Tribes and Indigenous peoples. FAI will host a series of interactive dialogues customized for museum professionals through methods that are grounded in Indigenous values and ways of knowing, incorporating social technologies to host provocative dialogues that advance the needs of Indigenous peoples and partners statewide. Participants will learn how to have respectful and meaningful conversations about racism, equity, stewardship, and other challenging topics that continually arise in the field.

    The Program’s goal is to transform institutions that are uniquely positioned to protect culturally significant artifacts and share about the lives of Alaska Native people, past and present. Discussion topics will include repatriation, Tribal sovereignty, and access to ancestral knowledge and objects. We invite you to engage in this unique opportunity as we challenge assumptions and the ways they impact the museum institutions, our patrons and Indigenous peoples.

    There are two ways to participate: engaging fully as a cohort participant, or as a webinar-only attendee. To learn more, visit: Strengthening Museum Relationships with Indigenous Communities

  • Friday, May 06, 2022 1:27 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    We are delighted to publish our 2021 Annual Report! This year, the report is entirely digital. You can view it on Issuu, or download it here. Let us know if you have any questions!

  • Friday, April 29, 2022 1:19 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    We are happy to announce our first round of Alaska Art Fund (AAF) and Collections Management Fund (CMF) grantees! In this round, we are awarding $123,625.31 to eleven organizations across Alaska.

    A huge thank you to Rasmuson Foundation for renewing their support over the next three years for these two grant programs. We are looking forward to funding even more projects and artworks in the years to come. 

    We also want to thank our amazing panelists who spent their personal time to carefully consider the applications and have provided thoughtful advice and comments for each applicant.

    And without further ado, congratulations to the following grant recipients!

    Collections Management Fund - Round 1 Grants - $84,482.31

    • $20,000 - The Alaska Native Heritage Center will execute a thorough inspection, cleaning, and maintenance project for its Southeast Alaskan totem pole originally carved by Nathan Jackson.

    • $18,161 - The Alaska State Museum will use collaborative methods to establish and execute the most up-to-date gut conservation treatments and exhibition techniques in the museum field while providing a model of inclusive collections care practice.

    • $14,972 - The Museum of the North will undertake a comprehensive rehousing and stabilization project on the 54-piece flag collection held by the Ethnology & History department.

    • $12,719.50 - The Fairbanks Children’s Museum will repair two of their most popular permanent exhibitions—the AirMaze and bubble tubes.

    • $8,437 - The Aunt Claudia’s Dolls, a Museum will hire a conservator for thorough in-person advice and training to establish collections management protocols for routine care of the Northern Indigenous Doll Collection.

    • $5,859.48 - The Anchorage Museum will hire consultants to train collections care staff how to produce quality standardized photographs of museum collections using practical and innovative skills and equipment. This training will be open to all local museums.

    • $4,333.33 - The Pioneer Air Museum will install UV blocking film on all 12 of the museum’s exterior windows, as well as the 5 glass panes enclosing the museum’s public exhibition case located at the Fairbanks International Airport.

    Alaska Art Fund - Round 1 Grants - $39,143

    • $6,500 - The Ilanka Cultural Center will commission Eyak & Sugpiaq Housing Models, three indigenous house models to be crafted by Sugpiaq artist, Andrew Abyo to be used for a variety of educational purposes to improve traditional understanding.
    • $5,500 - The Alutiiq Museum will acquire Kadiak, an oil on canvas painting by Kodiak Alutiiq artist Alvin Eli Amason. The painting depicts a person inspired by Alutiiq community members, a unique subject matter for Amason, who usually paints animals.
    • $5,500 - The Alutiiq Museum will acquire Matriarchs in the Making, Afognak 1950s, an oil on canvas painting by Kodiak Alutiiq Artist Gloria Selby that will assist the museum in telling recent Alutiiq stories. Selby’s painting will help them interpret Alutiiq village life and share a story of persistence, resilience, and connection.
    • $3,700 - The Sheldon Jackson Museum will acquire Midsummer Moon Mask, a fusion of artist Allie High's own Alutiiq, Tshimshian, and Haida background and her simultaneous nod to Alaska Native women's traditions and her family's roots in Ninilchik. The mask will be the second contemporary mask in the collection carved by a woman and it is the only one with such diverse array of Alaska Native cultures in a single work of art.
    • $3,000 - The Alutiiq Museum will acquire Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women Headdress, a beaded headdress by Alutiiq artist Kayla Christiansen McDermott. Indigenous women make up about 1% of the United States population, but they are murdered at ten times the rate of other citizens. McDermott’s headdress tells this story.
    • $3,000 - The Alutiiq Museum will acquire Bird Mask Hat, a festival garment stitched by Kodiak Alutiiq artist Cassey Rowland. Using the hat, the museum can discuss skin sewing, material use, and garment design along with other related stories.
    • $3,000 - The Anchorage Museum will acquire Sylva, a mask created by Tsimshian, Haida, Sugpiaq, and Russian artist Allie High. The piece will be a unique addition to their collection as it is a mask created by a female Indigenous carver and represents the artist’s blended heritage so beautifully.
    • $3,000 - The Anchorage Museum will acquire The Far Edge of Summer, an acrylic painting of the forest floor by Gail Priday. Priday’s unusual approach to landscape painting makes the work a compelling addition to exhibitions about the contemporary North, climate change, gender in the North, as well as programs and research dealing with forest ecology, the boreal biome, forest fire, and fungi.
    • $1,900 - The Alaska State Museum will acquire Ben Huff's image Seven Doors of Doom, which is the keystone of a series of images entitled Atomic Island. The pictured WWII and Cold War Naval outpost on the Aleutian island of Adak tells a complex story of our westernmost front against communism, and the people who live among the remnants of our past military ambitions.
    • $1,500 - The Talkeetna Historical Society will acquire High Country Grizzly, an oil pastel by David Totten, who was an important and popular artist in Talkeetna for over 20 years. This painting will expand their contemporary art collection and will be the first painting in their collection by Totten.
    • $1,250 - The Anchorage Museum will acquire Impermafrost and Lichen Cross-Section, small-scale collages created by Gail Priday from painted and cut paper. The pieces depict different aspects of the Northern environment at a cellular/microbial level. These collages will help tell the story of climate change using a visual language that also represents a shift in how artists are grappling with depicting landscape.
    • $650 - The Alaska State Museum will acquire Cody Swanson’s Dipnetters, a pinhole photograph made using a camera constructed from a cast of the artist's head. The print, ink on gelatin silver, was then altered with mixed media to express fantasies and memories within the landscape. The photographic process and the hand manipulation of the print is so unique that the museum feels that it will be a valuable addition to their photography collection.
    • $643 - The Talkeetna Historical Society will acquire Aurora Guitar, a mosaic guitar by Rose Jenne, who has became famous locally for abstract mosaic on musical instruments, tables, postal boxes and even Xtratuf boots. The guitar will allow the museum to talk about the importance of music and art in the local community and also talk about an important local elder and her contributions to the community over the last 50 years.

    Congratulations to everyone on their successful grant applications! We can’t wait to see the progress on your projects.

  • Monday, November 08, 2021 3:45 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    We are happy to announce our second round of Art Acquisition Fund (AAF) and Collections Management Fund (CMF) grantees! In this round, we are awarding $140,835 to thirteen organizations across Alaska.

    As always, we want to thank Rasmuson Foundation for their generous support for these two grant programs. We also want to thank our amazing panelists who spent their personal time to carefully consider the applications.

    We are waiting for Rasmuson Foundation’s decision regarding funding for the next several years of the grant programs, but we will keep you updated when we have information on any changes to the grant programs and when the grants will reopen!

    Collections Management Fund - Round 2 Grants

    • $3,465 - The Pioneer Air Museum will purchase custom-made bookshelf covers to protect collection objects stored on open shelves.

    • $13,390 - The Palmer Museum of History and Art will purchase a Bookeye book scanner to more efficiently digitize their collections.

    • $12,325 - The Hammer Museum will purchase Lantern devices and create an audio tour of their museum.

    • $8,149 - The Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center will rehouse and reorganize archival collections and digitize photographs related to Alaska Native residential boarding facilities that were Haines-based.

    • $5,220 - The Resurrection Bay Historical Society will contract with a conservator to clean, repair, and remount their 1974 Iditarod Race Mukluks, as well as hold a two-day, four-hour workshop on the care of clothing and fiber-based collections for museum staff, board, and a member from Seward Friends of the Library, which also has fiber-based collection items.

    • $7,056 - Alaska Aviation Museum will complete a pilot project that will allow them to begin a full inventory of their collection and update important collections procedure documents in the process.

    • $9,905 - The Sealaska Heritage Institute will contract with a conservator and storage mount-maker to complete work on twenty-five new collection items from the Wells Fargo Museum. Both consultants will also provide training to the Collections Manager as they work.

    • $3,550 - Alaska Botanical Gardens will improve their art collection management practices by training staff in collections care, and creating collections care and cataloging policies.

    Art Acquisition Fund - Round 2 Grants

    • $8,500 - The Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center will acquire Troller, a nautical-themed guitar created by Rob Goldberg, a local artist who has been the recipient of two past Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Awards.

    • $6,250 - The Sitka Historical Society will acquire an Aleut/Alutiiq open crown hunting visor and throwing dart set, created by Peter Lind, Sr., to assist them in telling the history of the Aluet/Alutiiq peoples in Sitka.

    • $17,000 - The Alaska State Museum will acquire a traditional Spruce Root Hat woven with a skil (property ring) at the top, which was created as a collaborative effort by the family of Delores Churchill (Haida) of Ketchikan. It will be the first hat of its kind in their collection and will check off an item on their collections development plan.

    • $3,700 - The Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will commission an Octopus Bag from artist Jill Kaasteen Meserve. This will allow SHI to add a modern octopus bag to their collections in time for an upcoming exhibition on Alaska Native Women Artists. It will also improve their collection of artworks created by women—many of which have been traditionally seen as “crafts” instead of “art”.

    • $18,900 - The Ketchikan Museums will commission a set of five Tiffany-style, stained glass windows for their Tongass Historical Museum entryway from local artist Terry Leberman. The windows will depict scenes of Ketchikan Creek featuring the seasons and moods of the creek and the creatures that depend upon it.

    • $675 - Kodiak Historical Society will acquire Across Blue Seas, a beaded necklace and earrings set from local artist Mary Jane Longrich that will help the museum tell the story of trade beads and the prominent role they play in Alutiiq history and artistry.

    • $4,500 - Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC) will acquire Credible, a piece from a series addressing abuses perpetrated by the Catholic Church in the State of Alaska. The artwork was created by Athabascan and Iñupiaq artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs. ANHC will use this piece to engender empathy and awareness of child sexual abuse, an issue that has plagued the Alaska Native community since missionization.

    • $7,000 - Alaska State Museum will acquire Out Late Again, I See, a contemporary diorama by Juneau-based artist Mitch Watley. The retro-futuristic piece will improve the museum’s collections of contemporary sculptural work and Alaskan art, and add a touch of humor to their collection.

    • $11,250 - Alaska Aviation Museum will commission three pieces by artist John Hume for their upcoming permanent exhibition Explorers and Pathfinders. The pieces will depict three important aviation moments that do not have photographic evidence: the Discovery of Merrill Pass in 1927, the Wilkins Arctic Expedition in 1928, and the Cosmic Ray Expedition to Mt. McKinley in 1932.

    We want to congratulate everyone on their successful grant applications! We can’t wait to see the progress on your projects.

  • Wednesday, October 20, 2021 8:00 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Museums Alaska and the Alaska museum community stand in support of the Alaska Jewish Museum and its mission to provide a home for Jewish history, art, and culture in Alaska. 

    We are deeply disturbed by the recent attacks of antisemitic vandalism that the Alaska Jewish Museum has experienced in Anchorage. Curator Leslie Fried has twice found swastika stickers stuck to the museum doors and windows and in the second incident, a swastika was gouged through a sticker into a door. 

    Museums Alaska, Alaskan museums, and museum staff members across the state stand in solidarity with Curator Leslie Fried, the Alaska Jewish Museum, and the Alaska Jewish Campus—offering support as the museum seeks to address these crimes and ensure the safety of its facilities and community.

    This vandalism is an attack on all of us and the inclusive Alaska history our institutions were founded to tell. History reveals that malicious acts increase during uncertain times, and they flourish when encouraged or ignored by people in leadership positions. We will not ignore this spiteful act and we will work with the Alaska Jewish Museum to combat bigotry and prejudice in all its forms.

    Education is one of the most important tools we can use to end hate crimes. Alaska’s museums are institutions of lifelong learning and we are well-positioned to share information about the diverse communities that contribute to the cultural and social richness of our state.

    Museums across Alaska encourage our communities to recognize that diversity is a strength and to learn about the vibrant cultures and resourceful individuals that have shaped Alaska. And we will continue to strive to reach community members we don’t know with our programming because it is those individuals and groups who may benefit the most from respectful dialogue about Alaska’s history and peoples. 

    Together we stand steadfast in our support of the Alaska Jewish Museum and affirm our intent to combat acts of hate against our museum community. 

    Museums Alaska

    Alaska Aviation Museum

    Alaska Botanical Garden

    Alaska Emerging Museum Professionals Chapter 

    Alaska Humanities Forum

    Alaska Jewish Museum

    Alaska State Museums:
    Alaska State Museum, Juneau & Sheldon Jackson Museum

    Alaska Veterans Museum 

    Alpine Historical Society

    Alutiiq Museum

    American Bald Eagle Foundation

    Anchorage Museum

    Aunt Claudia’s Dolls, a Museum 

    Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum


    Chickaloon Village Traditional Council

    Chilkat Valley Historical Society

    Clausen Memorial Museum

    Cordova Historical Museum


    Fairbanks Children's Museum

    Fairbanks Community / Dog Mushing Museum

    Friends of Sheldon Jackson Museum 

    Haines Sheldon Museum

    Homer Council on the Arts

    Hope and Sunrise Historical and Mining Museum

    Juneau-Douglas City Museum

    Kawerak Katirvik Cultural Center

    Ketchikan Museums

    Kodiak History Museum

    Little Lithuanian Museum & Library

    Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry 

    Museum of the Aleutians

    Palmer Museum of History and Art

    Pioneer Air Museum

    Pratt Museum & Park

    Preservation Alaska

    Resurrection Bay Historical Society

    Sealaska Heritage Institute

    Talkeetna Historical Society and Museum

    Thole Exhibits And Mounts (TEAM)

    University of Alaska Museum of the North

    Valdez Museum and Historical Archive

  • Friday, September 03, 2021 10:39 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Every year at our annual conference, we recognize individuals who have gone above and beyond in their dedication to museums. This year we are honoring four amazing individuals who have dedicated time, money, and their passion for teaching to improve museums across Alaska.

    Award for Excellence in the Museum Field


    Dawn Biddison filming the Material Traditions Moosehide project. Photograph by Scott Moon, Kenaitze Tribe. You can find video sets from the Material Traditions programs in the "Community Videos" section at this link:

    Dawn Biddison is a Museum Specialist at the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center based at the Anchorage Museum who does exceptional work—particularly on the Material Traditions program.

    She received her undergraduate degree from Columbia University and University College London where she pursued a cross-cultural emphasis to her study of psychology. In 2002 she completed her Masters in Anthropology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

    Since 2012, the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center and Anchorage Museum have hosted artists residencies and community workshops, titled Material Traditions. During the program accomplished Alaska Native artists are invited to demonstrate their work in important cultural forms and materials. These often combine traditional with innovative and experimental techniques that are shared with museum visitors and participants in the programs. Material Traditions programs have focused on fish skin, porcupine quill, gut skin, walrus ivory, cedar wood, cedar bark, moose hide and grass. Most of these materials are either difficult to source, process, or the knowledge is struggling to survive. The programs are unique in that film documentaries of the material processing and use are created, the artists selected are teachers in their own communities, and an environment is provided that enables artists and museum conservators to share their expertise. There have been immense benefits for the artists, communities, museum professionals and the museum objects for which we care.

    Dawn Biddison develops the Material Traditions programs and has been instrumental in its continuing success. She works extensively with the artists and community to organize, conduct and video-document the material gathering and processing events. Dawn often edits the video footage for online and DVD release and works with Alaska Native educators to develop learning resources for classrooms, culture camps and home.

    Tremendous effort and organization goes into planning and implementing an artist residency program like Material Traditions. Dawn Biddison as her role as project manager is essential, to ensure that there are enough of the practical items: raw materials, supplies, chairs, tables and good lighting, but to also consider breaks, snacks and lunches for the artists. Dawn works tirelessly in the background to create an environment that allows all participants to fully engage.

    Her high level of project management helps accommodate real time changes in the schedule, such as weather delays and requested changes to planned processing activities by artists. The program can be challenging to plan, since so much of information comes spontaneously as the artists are working on their projects. Dawn’s approach to project management ensures a balance between providing space for this to happen, while still providing sufficient structure to move the program along and make it meaningful.

    She is flexible to respond quickly to feedback and to change presentation formats during the program which has been greatly appreciated by artists, and has been essential to the success of the program series. While the teaching aspect of the program is important, artists also need space and time for the new working environment. Working in museums can be both physically and emotionally draining. Dawn’s awareness and empathy of this helps participants and the program as a whole.

    Often this is the first time artists have agreed to document a process from start to finish. Having participated in these programs as a conservator it is clear that a main reason they have been such a success is because artists trust Dawn to respect the elders and Indigenous knowledge. Dawn understands all the complex logistical and human factors involved in the programs. She is flexible, resourceful, adapts to the needs of the artists and other participants, and respects cultural values and cultural norms of the people she is working with. She gives careful consideration to the variable factors such as personalities, expectations, cultural sensitivity, gifts, breaks, supplies, work methods, styles, information gathering, appropriate filming, and post-program data management. Her contact amongst program participants has extended beyond the programs, creating strong and enduring relationships that help break down the past barriers often created by museums.

    Volunteer of the Year Award


    Paul Gill. Photograph courtesy of Paul Gill.

    It is rare to find someone who understands the importance of the daily maintenance associated with caring for a National Historic Landmark. From putting up storm windows, to moving furniture and taking out recycling, Paul has been there for our team.

    Paul has contributed over 40 hours of volunteering with us in the past year. He is our right-hand handyman, always by our side when heavy lifting is needed. During the COVID-19 pandemic he continued to help us maintain the building and even donated over 20 hours of his time helping with our collections object inventory.

    Most notably, Paul advocates for the importance of small local history museums like ours in our community and everywhere he travels. He and his wife, Susan, are avid travelers and where ever they go, Paul brings his KHM volunteer badge and talks about his local museum. He then brings knowledge back from his travels and shares it with us here in Kodiak. He brings a sense of community to our work.

    Museum Champion


    Dr. Donald W. Clark. Photograph courtesy of the Alutiiq Museum.

    The Alutiiq Museum and the Kodiak History Museum, nominated the late Dr. Donald W. Clark (1932-2018) for the Museums Alaska Museum Champion Award. Raised in Kodiak, Clark was a leader in studying the archipelago’s history. He was locally known as the “father of Kodiak archaeology”. He was the first researcher to describe the sequence of local cultures, tracking the development of Alutiiq societies over 7,000 years. His detailed studies of everything from slate working, to fur seal hunting, petroglyphs, the ground squirrels of Chirikof Island, and nineteenth century Alutiiq villages remain a foundation for research. He was an exacting, prolific scholar but also kind and generous. He loved working with students and believed firmly in the power of community museums to share history with the public.

    As a young man, Clark helped to found and run the Kodiak Historical Society and served as its president. A number of the Kodiak’s History Museum’s collections are donations from his research. In his later years, Clark worked closely with the Alutiiq Museum, participating in archaeological field research, providing meticulous evaluations of publications, mentoring students at all levels, and donating his personal papers and library to the organization.

    In a final act of generosity, Clark left a total of $2.45 million dollars to our two museums. Our institutions, which lie just two blocks apart, were both recipients of game-changing donations from his estate. The funds represent a substantial portion of Clark’s life savings and a major investment in sharing Kodiak’s history with future generations. Clark’s support provides an important measure of financial stability for the organizations positioned to carry out the work he began. Neither institution knew he had made this commitment until after his death. He never mentioned it.

    For his life-long dedication to heritage preservation and his quiet but enormous support of our institutions, we nominate Clark for the Museum Champion award. His generosity and thoughtful planning will have a lasting impact on Kodiak and the museum’s that share its stories. Both our organizations invested the bequests in funds that will provide operational support for generations.

    At the Alutiiq Museum, earnings from Clark’s gift will underwrite facilities costs and at the Kodiak History Museum they are helping to expand essential staffing. We believe that Clark’s generosity and its far reaching impacts deserve this recognition.

    President's Award in Honor of Lifetime Achievement


    Elaine Kingeekuk teaching a gutskin workshop at UAF Northwest Campus. Photograph by Jackie Hrabok.

    Elaine Kingeekuk (St. Lawrence Island Yupik) has been sharing her knowledge about skin sewing with students, artists, and museums for over 30 years. Ms. Kingeekuk was born and raised in Savoonga and comes from a long line of St. Lawrence Island Yupik artists. She is a doll maker, basket maker, and skin sewer who works with materials such as seal and walrus gut, seal skin, and polar bear skin. Ms. Kingeekuk learned the art of processing and sewing gut from her mother Ruthelle Kingeekuk. In Savoonga, Ms. Kingeekuk taught cultural and language studies at Hogarth Kingeekuk Sr. Memorial School for 23 years.

    Ms. Kingeekuk has served as a valuable guide and contributor to numerous museum projects over the years. She served as an advisor for the Smithsonian exhibition Living Our Cultures, Sharing our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska that opened in 2010 and helped to mend the ceremonial gut parka that is now on display at the Anchorage Museum. In 2012, she participated in a St. Lawrence Island Yupik language and culture seminar hosted by the Alaska Office of the Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center. As part of the seminar, she assisted in documentation of the St. Lawrence Island Yupik language and helped to create teaching materials for use in schools and homes that can now be freely accessed via the Smithsonian Learning Lab. A collaborative book between Ms. Kingeekuk and Herminia Din, Professor of Art, University of Alaska Anchorage, was published in 2012 titled, Seal, Thimble & Sinew Thread – Sewing Art of the Siberian Yupiks from Savoonga, Alaska. The publication includes images of gutskin artwork, skin sewing techniques, and personal histories behind the art pieces.

    During 2014, Ms. Kingeekuk joined artists Mary Tunuchuk (Yupik) and Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Inupiaq/Athabascan) in the Material Traditions: Sewing Gut artist residency at the Anchorage Museum. Ms. Kingeekuk and the other artists shared their knowledge about processing and sewing sea mammal gut with University of Alaska Anchorage Native art students, Anchorage school district students, and museum visitors. Interviews and film footage taken during the residency were used to create a DVD shared with communities and museums across Alaska and are accessible on the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center YouTube channel.

    Ms. Kingeekuk partnered with Museums Alaska for the 2015 Angels Project and led conservation of a bear gutskin parka in the collection of the Cordova Historical Museum. In 2018, she led a gutskin workshop for a group of enthusiastic students from the Bering Strait region at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Northwest Campus in Nome. The following year, she taught students at Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka how to make St. Lawrence Island Yupik gutskin baskets during Founder’s Week. In 2020-2021, Ms. Kingeekuk partnered with the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum to create a gutskin mask and bib decorated with traditional materials and embedded with cultural knowledge that she shared through a series of oral history interviews.

    Through her commitment to passing on St. Lawrence Island Yupik culture and heritage, Elaine Kingeekuk has left an incredible legacy of historic preservation along with the knowledge and skills needed to transform marine mammals into clothing and art which might otherwise have been lost. Ms. Kingeekuk’s generous and kind spirit has touched many over the years and her career presents a shining example of collaborative museum work to which we can all aspire.

    Congratulations to all of the awardees! And thank you for everything you've done for museums across Alaska!

  • Tuesday, July 06, 2021 4:23 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    We're excited to announce our first round of Art Acquisition Fund (AAF) and Collections Management Fund (CMF) grantees! For this round, we are awarding $196,527.10 to fourteen organizations across Alaska.

    As always, we want to thank Rasmuson Foundation for their generous support for these two grant programs. We also want to thank our amazing panelists who spent a lot of their personal time to carefully consider the applications.

    As a reminder, our AAF grant is now switching to a rolling deadline and is open again, so organizations can purchase art when it becomes available. The CMF grant will reopen on September 6 and close on October 11. That’s not too far away, so get your projects ready!

    Collections Management Fund - Round 1 Grants 

    • $7,407 - The Alaska Jewish Museum will upgrade its website so they have a stable online environment for virtual programming and exhibits.

    • $15,000 - The Alaska State Museum will contract with an expert consultant on their aviation collection in order to make curatorial and collections care decisions about the objects.

    • $14,970.10 - The Alutiiq Heritage Foundation will complete a collections management project for their Nunakakhnak collection that includes translating a Fortran catalog, correcting misidentifications, and updating the storage of the collection.

    • $5,105 - The Cordova Historical Society and Museum will digitize 58 rolls of The Cordova Daily Alaskan and The Cordova Times microfilm, which will provide opportunities for research that have not been accessible in the past.

    • $13,412 - The Juneau-Douglas City Museum will clean and prepare the Wooshkeetaan Kootéeyaa before it is raised in the State Office Building.

    • $15,000 - Ketchikan Museums will digitize unstable analog media in their collection including: (295) cassette tapes, (10) vinyl records and (4) Betacam tapes.

    • $13,395 - The Museum of the Aleutians will complete an eight-month collections care upgrade that will implement proper preventative cleaning measures throughout the museum, as well as upgrading storage mounts for objects currently in poor housing.

    • $8,870 - Preservation Alaska (AKA the Alaskan Association for Historic Preservation, Inc.) will transfer their Oscar Anderson House Museum collections catalog from excel into Past Perfect. In the process, each item will photographed and its condition reported on.

    • $14,418 - Talkeetna Historical Society will identify and label found-in-collections items, settle old loans, properly house objects, and rehouse the Robb collection, which is currently in a separate location.

    Art Acquisition Fund - Round 1 Grants

    • $35,000 - The Alutiiq Museum and Archeological Repository will be acquiring a giant, bronze Alutiiq mask created by renowned Alutiiq artist, Perry Eaton. The mask will be installed in the entryway of the museum where every visitor can see it. The Messenger is a mix of traditional and modern design and will help the museum depict Eaton’s evolution as an artist.

    • $6,800 - The Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum will be acquiring one hundred tiny artworks from the series Hair Portraits, by contemporary Inupiaq/Athabascan artist, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, and a piece by Norwegian/Inupiaq artist Ryder Erickson, In Vain He Chases Ravens. These acquisitions will further their mission to collect, interpret, and preserve collections of historical, cultural, and artistic value that illustrate the vibrant communities of Nome and the Bering Strait.

    • $11,300 - The Anchorage Museum will acquire a set of photographs by African American artist, Jovell Rennie, to help fill substantial gaps in the Museum’s holdings and incorporate more immigrant perspectives into their archives and collections. They will also commission a painting by Linda Infante Lyons that will allow the museum to investigate of themes and ideas surrounding women’s rights, decolonization, and Indigenous sovereignty.

    • $13,000 - The Ilanka Cultural Center will acquire two paintings by David Pettibone, Open for Business and Study for Harvest, that will allow the center to interpret different stories around the importance of fishing in Cordova, the devastating impact of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, and the delicate ecosystems that the local communities and villages rely on for survival.

    • $850 - The Clausen Memorial Museum will acquire Le Conte Ice Fall, a photograph by David Beebe featuring gulls feeding during a glacier calving event. The scene is a familiar one in Petersburg, and will give the museum opportunities to talk about the importance of glacier ice to the local climate, as well as to the development and growth of the community.

    • $22,000 - Sealaska Heritage Institute will acquire a modern sea otter jacket and hat set from Tlingit artist, Robert Miller. By actively collecting modern pieces, the institute is documenting the growth and change of Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures. Skin sewing is an ancient tradition, but these pieces will be dyed blue, and the jacket will be crafted using a sewing style of “letting the fur out”—both modern takes on the traditional art form.

    We want to congratulate everyone on their successful grant applications! We can’t wait to see the progress on your projects.

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