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Anchorage Museum expands collection through major purchases, donations


“Recent Acquisitions” on view Nov. 16 through Feb. 10, 2013

“Recent Acquisitions,” on view Nov. 16 through Feb. 10, 2013 at the Anchorage Museum, showcases more than 140 new museum holdings, including paintings, ethnographic objects, photographs, sculptures and historical objects.

Rare objects include unique skin masks made by the Nunamiut people of Anaktuvuk Pass using a technique they invented, casting wet caribou skins on wooden molds and staining them with raw caribou liver. The masks, used to tell stories during Christmas week, depict human faces trimmed with the ears, noses and fur of wolf, fox, caribou and lynx.

Among Nunamiut, festive celebrations offer escape from the rigors of Arctic living. The person wearing the mask acts out a story to make people laugh. The first person to laugh takes the next turn. The late state soil conservationist Weymeth Long and his wife, Vivian, collected 16 of these masks by Iñupiaq artist Jane Rulland Young. Thanks to the family’s generous donation, these masks are among the latest additions to the Anchorage Museum’s permanent collection.

The permanent collection typically grows through donations or purchases made possible by grants and the Anchorage Museum Association. Some of the art inthis exhibition was purchased via the Rasmuson Foundation’s Alaska Contemporary Art Acquisitions Program, including works by Perry Eaton, Nicholas Galanin and Linda Infante Lyons.

Exhibition highlights also include:

Jones-Breu Collection (including photographs, baskets): In June 1942, the Japanese military invaded Attu island, taking most of the inhabitants prisoner. Teacher Etta Jones was allowed only one suitcase when she was taken to a prisoner-of-war camp in Japan. These photographs and baskets are some of the items she chose for that suitcase. She was a prisoner for three years.

Parka cover, c. 1943: This child's parka cover was one of two made by Vera Roberts Giese (1900-1985), born in Unalaska, for her sons Don and Harold Roberts. The covers were then given to her grandsons, Bill and Ken Hightower, who donated one each to the Alaska Native Heritage Center and the Anchorage Museum.

Inupiaq harpoon, 1993: This harpoon was made by Ted Mayac, Sr. under the instruction of Paul Tiulana. It took Mayacalmost three months to complete, and it is measured to fit the artist’s body. The harpoon is made of cedar, walrus ivory, seal hide, walrus bone, caribou antler, jade, baleen and sinew.

Japanese sword and rifle: The donor’s father, Major Marvin M. Kirchner, was a paratrooper in the U.S. Army 11th Airborne Division. Although obtained in the Philippines during World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army used similar weaponry in its Aleutian Islands campaign.

The Anchorage Museum is the largest museum in Alaska and one of the top 10 mostvisited attractions in the state. The museum’s mission is to share and connect Alaska with the world through art, history and science. Learn more online at anchoragemuseum.org.

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