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Museum Snapshot Day

Welcome to the Alaska celebration of International Museum Day! Museums and Cultural Centers across the state submitted photos on a single day: April 19, 2014. Explore this feature roll or browse the whole gallery on our Flickr site (click any image to the right).          -Ketchikan Museums children’s program “Grown on the Rock” (photo)

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Museum Snapshot Day

Alutiiq Museum:  Michael Bach works with Alutiiq Club members to record PSA in the Alutiiq language for KMXT Public Radio.

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Museum Snapshot Day

Curator of Education Jill Lipka fills a whale tooth mold for a scrimshaw education program. Kodiak Historical Society & Baranov Museum.

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Museum Snapshot Day

Two staff members working on the installation of “Behind the Lens: 6 Juneau Photographers.” Juneau-Douglas City Museum, Juneau.

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Museum Snapshot Day

Victoria McDonald weaving a Ravenstail piece at the last Open Craft Night of the season. Ketchikan Museums.

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Museum Snapshot Day

Processing oversize archival materials into flat-file cases at Sitka National Historical Park.

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Museum of the Aleutians seeks Education Programs Coordinator

The Museum of the Aleutians seeks an Education Programs Coordinator. See job description below, and apply online: http://www.aleutians.org/Jobs.html

POSITION: Education Programs Coordinator
CLASS: Full Time, 40 hours/ week, 42,500/year
REPORTS TO: Museum Director
MONITORS: Museum Interns and Volunteers

SUMMARY OF RESPONSIBILITIES: Develops, implements, supervises, and evaluates the Museum’s educational programs.

1. To promote awareness and understanding of the cultural and natural history of the Aleutian Islands region and to interpret, through use of collection and traveling exhibit materials, the stories they tell.
2. To expand the community outreach programs for audiences of all ages.

1. Work within existing Museum framework and procedures.

2. Plan educational programs with the goal of enhancing public, student, and life­ long learner access to an understanding and interpretation of the collections, resources, and mission of the Museum. Programs and activities may encompass:

• Interpretive tours to the public;
• School tours and outreach within the community;
• Educational exhibitions, including remote video projects;
• Summer programs and internships;
• Printed educational materials such as self-guides and curriculum-based products;
• Development and coordination of the annual lecture series in conjunction with the Museum exhibition schedule;
• Docent training program;
• Special educational events, programs, demonstrations, and Family Free Days;
• Museum membership newsletter;
• Tracking and reports of education programs statistics.

3. Assists in the solicitation and procurement of funds for education programs.

4. Cooperates with Museum partners and collaborators in the development and delivery of cooperative educational programs.

5. Works with other core staff to accomplish the mission of the Museum.

6. Implements the Museum membership program.

7. Assists with development of exhibits and programming in collaboration with the Director and Collections Manager.

8. Maintains the museum office as an effective administrative support and communication center.

9. Assists the Museum Director in preparation for Board meetings, the Museum annual plan and other administrative functions.

10. Other duties as assigned.

Education: Bachelor’s degree required, advanced degree preferred, in education, an area of the Museum’s specialization, or museum studies with a concentration in museum education or public programming.

Work Experience: Minimum 2 years in a museum education department or other educational institution.


1. Ability to devise and carry out education programs including knowledge of museum education techniques, resources, and label writing;
2. Knowledge of the learning characteristics of museum audiences;
3. Skills in oral and written communication techniques appropriate to a broad range of educational levels and objectives;
4. Knowledge of the objectives, curricula, and operation oflocal area school systems and other educational institutions;
5. Knowledge of the Museum’s collections; strong grant writing skills;
6. Ability to work effectively with the public and be responsive to changing needs of the community;
7. Experience in supervising staff and volunteers;
8. Ability to work as a collaborative team member.


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Congratulations Round 2 AAF and CMF Awardees

Thanks to generous funding from Rasmuson Foundation, institutions across the state received awards through the Art Acquisition Fund and Collections Management Fund programs this Fall.


American Bald Eagle Foundation $3,523.95
Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum $1,079
Clausen Memorial Museum $3,124
Fraternal Order of Alaska State Troopers $4,379.20
Hammer Museum, Inc. $4,608.60
Pratt Museum $5,371.50
Ilanka Cultural Center $3,858.09
Juneau-Douglas City Museum $3,987
Ketchikan Museums $4,067.63
Museum of the Aleutians Association $650.78
Pioneer Air Museum $5,164.92
Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center, Inc. $8,968
Sitka Maritime Heritage Society $4,050
Valdez Museum & Historical Archive Association, Inc. $5,000
Wrangell Museum $9,212


Alaska Museum of Science & Nature $35,000
Alutiiq Museum & Archaeological Repository $4,075
Clausen Memorial Museum $5,800
Hammer Museum, Inc. $3,800
Pratt Museum $15,375
Ilanka Cultural Center $5,000
Juneau-Douglas City Museum $900
Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center, Inc. $17,000
University of Alaska Museum of the North $5,000

We are excited to offer a third round of AAF and CMF applications in 2017. The online applications will open Friday, November 10th, with a deadline of December 8th. More information can be found in the grants section on our website.

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Conference Overview: Helen Alten

This article was written by 2017 Donna Matthews Professional Development Fund scholarship recipient Helen Alten.


On the way to Anchorage on the big jet out of Juneau – Helen Alten, Regi Johanos and Aly Zeiger.

The Museums Alaska conference is an opportunity to learn in so many different ways. Peer interaction is one of the most important ways that I learn. But also experiencing other spaces and places. In this case, the most interesting moments for me were:

(1) The Ray Troll show at the Anchorage Museum. I have been wanting to ask Ray to do a show for our museum, ever since I heard about his show in Washington state. I thought it wouldn’t be possible, but now I see it is eminently possible – possibly by borrowing some of the graphics used in Anchorage.

(2) The Native Heritage Center was a new place for me to see. I loved the outdoor structures and the walking trail that show how each culture lived traditionally. I also enjoyed the light of the interior space. In particular, I enjoyed seeing a Wayne Price canoe and a Terri Rofkar Ravenstail blanket, both of them some of my favorite people.

(3) I enjoyed seeing the new expansion spaces and the new history exhibit at the Anchorage Museum. I’m not sure I agree with the design choices that were made in those spaces. For example, I am not a big proponent of matching a number to a key chart to figure out what you are seeing. I much prefer one label with each item. Just a lot cleaner and clearer. The history space was dark and spare, compared to its predecessor. I think one of the problems is that lighting is uneven between spaces in the museum, so one goes from daylit areas to dark areas, and the eyes don’t adjust well to those changes. The museum as a whole would appear brighter if all the spaces were lit at the same level. I also feel that pathways should be lit, not dark. Objects will have the same amount of low light, but people aren’t tripping over their feet. I did like the donor wall between the newest galleries and the new history exhibit.

(4) Listening to my collections staff and intern give their first professional presentation. Their talk on the Collections Inventory project, funded by Museums Alaska’s Collections Management grant, clearly transmitted how they approached starting an inventory (with education and training), and how they completed the project using volunteers, staff, and careful organization. They pointed out the necessity of having unique location labels for storage and exhibit furniture, using paper forms during the inventory, and then reconciling the paper information with the database. They explained how two people work together, one reading off the number, description and condition while the other acts as scribe.

(5) The pre-conference workshop by Laurie Stuart, “Connecting to Your Audience,” reminded me that we should be a “guide on the side” rather than a “sage on the stage.” Of course, I went on and gave two talks during the conference where I was that “sage on the stage.” I just didn’t have the time to be creative and inclusive, approaching the information in a way that it could be self-learned rather than expounded. She did a nice didactic about our audiences – letting us walk around the room and generalize about the characteristics of each of our visitor categories, such as “cruise ship passenger.” What I found fascinating was how much science and research has gone into the art of interpretation. I hadn’t realized. She gave us a workbook from the National Association for Interpretation. She stated that Interpretation is POETRY (Purposeful, Organized, Enjoyable, Thematic, Relevant, and You). We learned about Cable and Beck’s 15 Guiding Principles for Interpreting Nature and Culture, published in The Gifts of Interpretation (2011). This is based on six principles published in 1957 by Freeman Tilden in Interpreting Our Heritage. We came up with six words to explain each of Tilden’s principles: Relate, Revelatory, Teachable, Inspirational, Comprehensive, and Audience. Then she moved us into a formula (KA) + (KR) * AT = IO . In plain English this is: Knowledge of your Audience (KA) and Knowledge of your Resources (KR) apply Appropriate Techniques (AT) to get Interpretive Opportunities (IO). Which led us to stereotyping our audiences. How are Canadians, Cruise Ship Passengers, School Groups, and Cannery Workers similar or different from each other? Then we learned about universal values and applied that to tangibles and intangibles. We then listed the tangibles and intangibles of an object. Maslow’s Hierarchy was applied to how we approach our visitors. What needs are being served by our facility and staff? “Interpreters can help people spend less time concerned over their basic needs so that there is a better chance to achieve higher-level thinking or self-actualization.” Ms. Stuart’s normal workshop is 2 days long. She skipped around in the workbook, hitting the highlights. We discussed the difference between themes and topics. Although she applied it to interpretation and education programs, I found it directly applicable to exhibit labels as well. We discussed how to build presentations combining what we had learned about tangibles and intangibles, themes and topics. We did three little skits that helped us understand why these concepts are important if we want to provide a stellar experience. We finished with a focus on ourselves – figuring out what type of presenter we are and what that means. I came out of the session feeling overwhelmed. I, who thought I knew a fair bit about museums, realized this was an area about which I knew nothing. I felt this was important training for my staff and volunteers, as well as myself. It was a struggle to wrap my mind around new terminology and concepts, but I found it thrilling that they existed and that I had a new area of museum lore to learn. Although interpretation is often relegated to an educator or volunteers, I saw that the concepts and ideas relate to the museum as a whole. We are trying to give a good visitor experience through our exhibits, our research areas and our publications as well as our programs. Remembering some of the key concepts, such as Maslow’s Hierarchy, would help us look at those tangible presentations in a new way. For example, if the gallery is so dark that I fear tripping, then I have a basic need – the need for safety and security – that isn’t being met. And I will be thinking about that need while in the gallery, rather than enjoying the aesthetics of the museum exhibit.

(6) I spent time in the Historical Society sessions, learning more about parts of Alaska History that might relate to our region. I especially liked the life story of a young man who died on the Princess Sophia – which was a surprise ending to the story for me. I had entered the talk with an interest in his experiences with schools and the local preacher, since I am researching the impact of Haines House on our community.

(7) I spent time talking with people, but not enough time. We spoke of social interactions, community involvement, exhibit pros and cons…and, of course, museum gossip. Which is, in the end, part of the joy of the meeting and the process. One breakfast meeting, which I was late for, discussed how to improve our daily work through taking care of ourselves physically and mentally. For me, one of the highlights, was meeting with some of the other directors and learning that my year was not unusual. We all have hard times, difficult boards, problematic staff, and attempted coups. Sometimes. Just being able to talk about it makes it easier to soldier forth and keep up a vision for a better future. And that concept of being good to yourself, so you are a better person for others, was one that I heard over and over among the directors as well as at the breakfast roundtable.


While in the big City, after gaping at all the cars and being thrilled by elevators, malls and escalators, we had dinner at a nice restaurant and acted like tourists.

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Palmer Museum seeks Executive Director

Palmer Museum of History and Art (PMHA), a small local/regional museum and visitor center, seeks a visionary and innovative Executive Director. This position is responsible for implementing strategies and directing activities of the PMHA and the Palmer Visitors’ Center in downtown Palmer, AK. Our ideal candidate will have museum or comparable nonprofit executive experience, skills in creating and maintaining strategic partnerships, and expertise in grant writing and management. The position supervises employees, budgets resources, and helps the Board of Directors make PMHA a vital part of area culture.

For more information and a job description please see the Palmer Museum website (look under the tab “At the Museum”).

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Conference Workshop Reflections: Michael Bach

This article was written by 2017 Donna Matthews Professional Development Fund scholarship recipient Michael Bach.

Wednesday morning, the 27th of September, was windy and wet in Kodiak. I boarded the plane through a curtain of rain, and a four-inch deep puddle as I made my way to Anchorage. Heading to the 2017 Museums Alaska conference hosted at the Anchorage Museum was exciting, but tinged with apprehension. Since I am new to my position as the Collections Manager at the Kodiak Historical Society and Baranov Museum, I felt ill prepared to meet with other museum professionals and historians from across the region.

The plane touched down smoothly in the Anchorage bowl, filled with the bright colors of leaves turning in the crisp fall air. I disembarked and sped to a full-day pre-conference workshop with Laurie Stuart, Executive Director at the Pratt Museum in Homer. I sloshed into the auditorium with feet still wet from Kodiak, and a bit tardy, but I had arrived just as the group was moving around the space and writing on large Post-it notes. Across the tops of the Post-it notes were handwritten categories of museum patrons that included school groups, international visitors, cannery workers, cruise ship passengers, amongst others. Workshop participants were moving around the room writing perceptions of the groups listed at the top of the paper. I quickly grabbed a marker and recorded my thoughts at the bottom of each list. My tardiness proved beneficial, I was able to see what others had written before I recorded my thoughts and settle in before we reconvened as a large group.

Once gathered as a large group again, we moved around the room together and discussed the many ways we perceived the guests that walked into our institutions. We discussed how the perceptions we had with these groups informed the way we interacted with, and served them. Discussions about how to respond to offensive questions emerged, and we were able to share ways of responding calmly, tactfully, and with respect. I was humbled and excited by the realization that an hour and a half prior, I was shuffling through a puddle on the Kodiak tarmac, and was now engaged in the discussions I was hoping to work up to over the course of the conference. Instead of building-up to this sort of candid discussion, I walked right into it!

In hindsight, the stereotyping exercise helped me better identify the stereotypes that I bring into my interactions with the public through interpretation and sharing of our region’s history. More importantly, the exercise helped me recognize that stereotypes influence how I interact with other museums, collections, and communities around the state. Before I boarded my plane in Kodiak I thought that I was too new in my position to bring anything of value to this conference, I thought that other museums had “it all figured out” (perfect catalogs, perfect collections, and perfect staff). I viewed the professional community, of which I am part of, through a lens of various, stacked stereotypes that “other-ized” them in ways that isolated me, and placed my professional peers on untouchable pedestals. However, through facilitated conversation I was able to observe how other institutions dealt with similar obstacles, others who worked with collections had similar struggles with mystery objects, or unclear paperwork; I was able to see that we were all human and doing our best to carefully care for our community’s histories and resources.

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Letter Regarding 2018 Grants

Dear Alaska Museum Colleagues:

For the past thirteen years, Museums Alaska has enjoyed a strong partnership with the Rasmuson Foundation, including the oversight of two successful and very necessary grant programs: the Rasmuson Art Acquisition Fund (AAF) and the Collections Management Fund (CMF). Many of you have applied for funding through these programs, adding to your permanent collections and bolstering your collections care activities using the monies awarded.

In 2018, the process by which Museums Alaska receives funding for the AAF and CMF will be changing. The new process will require Museums Alaska to apply for a Tier II multi-year grant from the Rasmuson Foundation. This change will be a positive one because it will enable Museum Alaska to more actively solicit feedback from the Alaskan museum community and represent those needs in the process of applying for funding.

Earlier this year, the Rasmuson Foundation and Museums Alaska hired a contractor to evaluate the Art Acquisition Fund and Collections Management Fund programs. The goal of this evaluation, which is still underway, is to better understand the needs of those museums and artists that benefit from these grant programs and how the programs can be improved. The resulting report will help shape how Museums Alaska approaches these grant programs in 2018. The report will be completed later this fall.

The transition period for Museums Alaska to move towards submitting a Tier II grant will take time. Prior to submitting our first Tier II grant application to fund these grant programs, Museums Alaska will take time to review the 2017 AAF and CMF evaluation in order to make valuable changes to the program. Therefore, Museums Alaska will be unable to solicit applications for AAF or CMF grant programs in the spring of 2018. We anticipate submitting our Tier II grant application to Rasmuson early next year and expect to have funding in place for these programs in time to take applications for both programs in fall 2018.

Museums Alaska and the Rasmuson Foundation have every intention of continuing to partner in support of museums and cultural centers in the state. We plan to continue to offer financial assistance with art acquisitions and collections care needs and potentially other needs as a result of this newly restructured partnership. We look forward to working with you and becoming more acquainted with your organization’s goals and ambitions as part of this process.

Museums Alaska Board of Directors

Letter Regarding 2018 Grants (PDF)

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Museums Alaska 2017 Board of Directors Voting Open

Dear Museums Alaska members,

This is your official announcement of Museums Alaska’s Annual Business Meeting on Thursday, September 28, 2017 at 3:30pm in Anchorage, Alaska. At the meeting we will announce the winners of the election of four open seats on our Board of Directors. Below is a link to your electronic ballot. Vote for no more than four (4) candidates. Please select the box next to the candidates for whom you wish to vote. Please also review the proposed Bylaws revisions posted at https://museumsalaska.org/about, and submit your vote whether or not you agree with the changes proposed.

1. Only one ballot per current membership will be counted. If you have both an individual membership and are the voting representative for an institutional membership, you may submit a ballot for each membership.
2. You may vote electronically Tuesday, August 29 through Sunday, September 24, 2017.
4. Newly elected board members will be announced, and bylaws changes adopted, at the Annual Meeting on Thursday, September 28, 2017.

The deadline for voting is Sunday, September 24, 2017. Thank you for voting!


If you encounter any problems, please contact Della.