Child's Chilkat Robe by Shgendootan (Shgen) George to be purchased by Sealaska Heritage Institute. Photo courtesy Museums Alaska

Eight museums and cultural organizations across Alaska have been awarded $158,811 from Museums Alaska to purchase or commission art from contemporary Alaskan artists, or to improve the caring for and sharing of existing collections — one of them just north of Cordova in Valdez.

The grants will fund the purchasing of two artworks and complete seven collections projects, including reintroducing repatriated artifacts and digitizing an important fly collection.

Along with Valdez, grants were awarded to organizations in Kodiak, Ketchikan, Haines, Juneau, Fairbanks, and Anchorage.

The Valdez Museum & Historical Archive was granted $5,741.25 to improve its artwork storage. Museums Alaska said this will in turn “improve preservation conditions, increase accessibility, establish baseline for future conservation, and allow the curator to identify cultural and historic holes in the collection.”

The Alutiiq Museum & Archaeological Repository in Kodiak received just under $20,000 to de-install 453 artifacts and move them into storage for upcoming renovations of the museum. The Kodiak History Museum received just over $14,000 to partner with the Alutiiq Museum to catalogue over a thousand artifacts that were excavated over 50 years ago but have never been inventoried.

Museums Alaska awarded funds to museums through the Alaska Art Fund (AAF) to acquire items to improve their collections – this year financing the purchase of culturally significant and science-backed works.

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With $25,000 the Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will purchase a child’s Chilkat robe made by Shgendootan (Shgen) George, the design of which was at the center of a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by SHI in 2020 against fashion retailer Neiman Marcus.

The Alaska Museum of Science and Nature in Anchorage received $15,000 to commission an addition to an existing scientific painting of ancient swimming reptiles. The artist, James Havens, will complete the work during museum hours so the public can interact with and learn more about the subject and process.

“This is the 20th anniversary of the AAF grants and the 10th anniversary of the CMF grants,” said Dixie Clough, director of Museums Alaska, in the announcement. “Rasmuson Foundation and Museums Alaska began this partnership two decades ago, and ever since, these grants have made a huge impact on the museum community. We’re grateful for Rasmuson Foundation’s steadfast partnership and that we’ve been able to assist the museum field with these important grants for so long.”

Museums and cultural centers apply for funding through the AAF and CMF grants, which Museums Alaska awards twice a year. Museums Alaska, a nonprofit, manages these grants in partnership with the Rasmuson Foundation.

Museums Alaska is a statewide museum association that supports museums and cultural centers, and has been promoting public understanding of those institutions through advocacy, development and grants since the 1980s.

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