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Museum Exhibit Highlights New Acquisitions, Donor Stories



Fairbanks, Alaska—A new exhibit at the University of Alaska Museum of the North brings together an unlikely assortment of artifacts and specimens, including an Asian elephant, a swan from Denmark, a seventh-grade science fair project and archaeological artifacts from Interior Alaska.

“A Gathering of Gifts: Relationships That Build Our Collections” uses some of the museum’s most recent acquisitions to highlight the variety of donors that help enrich the museum’s research collection. The special exhibit runs through May 8.

“Our museum has been a beneficiary of the efforts and passions of collectors in Alaska and around the world,” said museum director Carol Diebel. “This exhibit is a great opportunity for us to share some unique and fascinating stories about our research donors and to showcase some of the latest additions to our collections.”

The exhibit includes objects from each of the museum’s research collections, including:

• The skull from a juvenile Asian elephant collected in Cambodia by volunteers and transferred to the museum through a collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society. The specimen represents the closest known relative of the mammoths that once roamed Interior Alaska and is valuable for comparative studies.

• A mute swan that died in flight and nearly hit a Danish woman in her yard. The mute swan is one of the world’s largest flying birds and is the only Northern Hemisphere swan species that has not yet been recorded in Alaska. One of the museum’s Danish research associates donated the specimen.

• A tray of Fairbanks insects, collected, identified and prepared for display by a Fairbanks resident for her seventh grade science fair entry. The display, created in the 1980s and donated in 2008, provides an important historical record for insects in the Fairbanks area and demonstrates how children can contribute to science.

• Archaeological artifacts from the remains of an Athabascan site in Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. Six Alaska high school students helped museum staff excavate the site in 2009 as part of UAF’s Alaska Summer Research Academy.

•  Beadwork, masks and other artworks purchased for the museum’s ethnology and history collection with funding from the Rasmuson Foundation Art Acquisition Initiative. The project provides grants for Alaska museums to purchase current work from practicing Alaskan artists.

"A Gathering of Gifts: Relationships That Build Our Collections" is the museum’s first special exhibit devoted to new acquisitions since the 2002 exhibit “New on View.” That exhibit focused exclusively on new additions to the fine art collection.

The museum holds more than 1.4 million artifacts and specimens in its research collections. The collections represent millions of years of biological diversity and thousands of years of cultural traditions in the North. They are arranged in 10 disciplines: archaeology, birds, earth sciences, ethnology/history, film, fine arts, fishes, insects, mammals and plants. The collections grow each year through field collecting, private donations and collaborations with state and federal agencies.

Admission to the special exhibit is included in the museum's general admission: $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $5 for youths 7-17 and free for children 6 and under. Museum members receive free admission. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed Sundays. Information on the museum's programs and exhibits is available at 907-474-7505 and online at http://museum.uaf.edu.

ON THE WEB: http://museum.uaf.edu
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