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NEH grant to help museum renovate historic gallery


The University of Alaska Museum of the North has received a $360,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the renovation of the historic Gallery of Alaska. The funding will allow the museum to hire an anthropologist, who will visit Native communities to solicit their input into the gallery project, as well as consult with a team of humanities scholars.

The gallery was built in in 1980 and is the only public portion of the museum that was not updated during an expansion completed in 2005. The museum launched the Gallery of Alaska project in 2014. The curators and staff worked to identify interpretive themes and catalog the objects currently on display. Most recently, the team finished an interpretive plan for the new gallery and is currently working on the layout and design of more than 70 exhibits.

The uniting theme for the new gallery is the bond between the landscape and the changing nature of life in Alaska and the North.  Alaska’s land and life are profoundly connected, said museum director Aldona Jonaitis.  “The land has meaning — both philosophical and practical — for all Alaskans. In turn, Alaska’s life shapes this land. This theme has universal relevance, as everyone interacts with their own environment.”

A lead gift of $1 million by longtime museum supporters Joseph E. Usibelli and Peggy Shumaker was previously announced. Another $500,000 has been raised from individuals.


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