Friday, September 14, 2012

What is Special About Kodiak's History?

What is your favorite story to tell about Kodiak’s history? What object or group of objects in the museum do you find the most interesting? What do you wish to see more of in the museum?

What is your vision for the museum?

These questions are not at all rhetorical. We want to know what you think! Thanks to grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services Museums for America program and the Alaska State Museum, the museum is at the very beginning of a multi-year effort to renovate our exhibits so that we can better tell the history of Kodiak. This year, we will be consumed with planning and research. Unfortunately, the words “planning” and “research” are boring, when in reality they entail work that is quite thrilling. Now is the time for pairing imagination, creativity, and vision with the tangible objects in our collection, the incredible history imprinted within the Russian-American Magazin, and the inspiring and tragic aspects of Kodiak’s long history. Now is the time for dreaming!

We are working with exhibit designer Sarah Asper-Smith, owner of Juneau-based company ExhibitAK. Over the course of the year, Sarah will transform our visions into architectural drawings of exhibit cabinets, floor plans, and graphic representations of the look and feel of the re-imagined spaces. Essentially, we are responsible for content, and Sarah will translate that content into blueprints and schematics. The next step will be securing funding for implementing the plans, constructing cabinets, and installing the new exhibits. The whole process will likely be completed over the course of a few years.

With the renovated exhibits, we only have a few constraints. Namely, we will not be making any permanent changes to the structure itself. In fact, we firmly believe that the National Historic Landmark in which the museum is housed is our finest asset, and we are excited to consider ways that we can better interpret the oldest building in Alaska. Additionally, we want to focus on telling stories that can be supported by the objects, photographs, and manuscripts within our collection.

We are a community museum, and we feel it is very important that we reflect the values and needs of Kodiak. That is where you come in. Please take the time to fill out our online survey. Doing so enters you in a drawing for a $100 gift certificate to the museum store. Please spread the word. Also, you can leave a comment below, e-mail me directly (, call the museum (486-5920) or stop by and let us know your thoughts.

Over the next year, we will be holding community meetings and coming up with ways that individuals can participate and contribute to the process. Please stay tuned. More importantly, please spend a few minutes thinking about Kodiak’s history and culture, and let the museum know what you think makes our community special.