Alaska's Digital Archives

About this collection

The Alaska State Museum was established on June 6, 1900, when an Act of Congress created the Historical Library and Museum for the District of Alaska. The purpose of the Museum was to collect, preserve and exhibit objects from the territory. Although the collection of artifacts and volumes grew rapidly, a permanent place to house and display materials was not found for 20 years. Initially, the collection was originally stored wherever space could be found, with no provision made for public access. In 1920, the collection of the Alaska Historical Museum was made available to the public in the Arctic Brotherhood Building in Juneau. In 1923, the Territory assumed responsibility for Museum operations and the Museum continued to acquire and display important historical objects, and also developed research, tour guide programs, and educational activities. By the mid-1940s, the collection had outgrown its space and the Museum could no longer adequately store and display its materials.

 

Finally, in 1967, in honor of the centennial of the purchase of Alaska from Russia, the citizens of Juneau implemented a one percent sales tax to help fund the building of the current museum facility. Juneau subsequently turned over ownership and governance of the Museum to the State of Alaska. Since that time, the Museum's collections have grown from 5,500 to 27,000 objects. The Alaska State Museum was accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1975 and was re-accredited in 1987, and again in 2001.

 

Statement of Purpose

The Alaska State Museums' statement of purpose is delineated in Alaska State Statute 14.57.010, revised and adopted in 1974.

  • to acquire artifacts, natural history specimens, art objects, and other items that pertain to the human and natural history of Alaska by purchase and by gift;
  • to identify, catalog, preserve and display the museums' acquisitions; to acquire and catalog Alaskan photographs and maintain a card catalog of this collection;
  • to accept endowments, grants and gifts;
  • to collect and maintain books, periodicals, pamphlets and other materials pertinent to museum administration, techniques and collections;
  • to assist and advise in the development of local museums;
  • to collect and keep current information concerning museum activities throughout the state;
  • to coordinate the museum activities of the state with those of other agencies; to keep the museum open at reasonable hours for the convenience of visitors;
  • to provide museum services and administer state and other grants-in-aid to museums in the state to supplement and improve their services.

Mission Statement

The Alaska State Museums (a state educational agency comprised of the Alaska State Museum and the Sheldon Jackson Museum) identify, collect, preserve and exhibit Alaska's material and natural history and provide public access to services and collections of the Museums. The Alaska State Museums interpret and disseminate knowledge of the history of the state, its people, and its resources, and support others in these efforts. The Museums also assist and advise in the growth, development, and excellence of other museums within Alaska.

 
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