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Inspired in Iceland

I recently had the privilege to go on my first European vacation with my family. We took advantage of Icelandair’s excellent stopover service and took 3 days to explore Iceland on our way to Sweden, where my husband would be attending a conference in Uppsala. On our last day we visited the Árbær Open Air Museum, which is part of the Reykjavík City Museum group of museums. I’ve always loved living history and historic house museums – this place topped all that I have visited in the past.

Looking across many of the historic buildings at the museum

Looking across many of the historic buildings at the Árbær Open Air Museum.

According to their website, Árbær was an established farm well into the 20th century. A museum opened on the property in 1957, which is located on a grassy hillside on the outskirts of Reykjavík. Now there are more than 20 historic structures that form a town square, a village, and a farm. The buildings include the old original farm house, a church & rectory, a blacksmith house, many residential buildings that represent a variety of architectural styles, and a pair of large warehouses built around 1820. Many of the buildings are decorated in period furnishings, giving visitors a sense of how people lived in Reykjavík over the decades, many in opulence and others in real rustic conditions. Other buildings contain thematic exhibitions, including “Building Techniques in Reykjavik 1840-1940,” “Consumption – Reykjavík in the 20th Century,” and “Employment of women in the home from 1900-1970.” This innovative combination of special exhibits set in historic buildings was new and exciting for this museum-goer. It helped keep the 7-year-old in our group as interested and occupied as the 75-year-old.

Equally as fun and engaging as the exhibits was the farm element. Live ponies, sheep, and chickens broke up the wide expanses of territory and brought life to our adventure.

An awesome four horned Icelandic sheep that fascinated our whole group!

An awesome four horned Icelandic sheep that fascinated our whole group!

Our favorite structure, however, was the old original farmhouse. A stone barn connected to a structure with three peaked roofs allowed residents to tend to the small animals (probably goats or sheep) without having to go outside. Two of the roof peaks represented the sleeping quarters, one for the boys and travelers, and one for the girls. This farmhouse seemed so practical, well-designed, and comfortable, my son and I could barely pull ourselves away from the building. We left wanting to know more and wishing to buy a publication at the gift shop (in English) about the history of the museum and the family who occupied the farm (unfortunately, we left with only a key chain, a mug, and a miniature Icelandic sheep).

Part of the original farmhouse, the only building that was preserved in situ at the museum.

Part of the original farmhouse, the only building that was preserved in situ at the museum, and described by my son as “the coolest house ever!”

 

Our departure from the Árbær Open Air Museum left me feeling invigorated for my work with the Fairbanks North Star Borough Historic Preservation Commission. Fairbanks, like Reykjavík, has seen a variety of architectural periods pass by, from the gold miner log cabins, to early framed  homes, through the wartime and pipeline days. While we are lucky to have Pioneer Park and the Gold Rush Town structures, my desire to help people understand the actual history represented by those buildings leaves me wanting more out of that park. Over the coming years, I hope to learn more about the process followed by Árbær to create such a successful open air museum that both honors the architectural history of Reykjavík and Iceland, as well as the people who built and made a life in those homes.

Here are a selection of photos from our visit.

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Beautiful and functional stove.

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A fine place to spend some time.

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Dinner anyone?

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An example of exhibit cases installed in a historic structure to tell the story of consumption (not the disease) in Iceland.

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Indoor plumbing!

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One of the wider stairwells we encountered.

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“Why do you have that?”

Sometimes the “value” of museum objects and specimens are not totally clear to everyone within a multi-disciplinary museum like the UA Museum of the North. Even other professionals who have similar academic backgrounds might be confounded when walking into the Ethnology & History lab to examine new acquisitions being processed by myself or our department staff.

Today’s query came from our Curator of Archaeology, who also happens to be my husband. “Why do you have that?” he asked as he entered the lab, motioning to a large object I had just finished cataloging and photographing. I turned to see what he was referring to, ready to provide the historical context of items ranging from a gold mining tool chest, a Yukon match tin, Alaska Native baskets, polar bear sculptures, and the item in question, a sample of the exterior wall construction of the renovated museum building from ca. 2005 (UA2015-007-0003).

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Museum wall section demonstrating the construction of the exterior walls. UA2015-007-0003. UAMN Photo.

 

This model was used by the Museum’s Alaska architects of record, GDM, Inc. for public events to demonstrate the incredible lengths the engineers went to in order to build a stable and tight building envelope to house our irreplaceable collections. Last year the museum’s acquisitions committee approved the transfer from the Exhibition & Design department, where the wall section had been stored for the past ten years, into the History collection for long-term curation. This process transforms the wall section from an “object” to an “artifact.” Once this transition occurs, this item joins a growing collection that helps to document the 90-year history of the University of Alaska Museum.

Items in the history collection that document the museum’s changes over time include t-shirts, employee name badges, brochures, magnets, and blankets. These items show the museum logo and the way the museum represented itself to the public through souvenirs sold in our store. We also have items that relate to the building itself. Documenting the 2006 renovation, we have items like the wall sample, but we also have symbolic artifacts like one of the golden spades used during the 2002 groundbreaking ceremony by Museum Director Aldona Jonaitis (UA2002-017-0001); the first piece of the museum building that was knocked off for the renovation process (UA2006-002-0007); and two impressive architectural models of the building that represent two very different visions of the expanded and renovated museum (UA2015-007-0001 and UA2015-007-0002AD).

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A ca. 1994 architectural model of a proposed expansion design of the University of Alaska Museum of the North. Made by Bezek-Durst-Seiser Architecture and Planning, Anchorage. UA2015-007-0001. UAMN Photo.

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Architectural model of the actual design for the UA Museum of the North, designed by HGA Architects and Engineers and constructed by Feyereisen Studios, both of Minneapolis, MN. UA2015-007-0002AD. UAMN Photo.

Some of these items, on their own, might warrant a question from a curious passer-by, about the “museum quality” nature of the collections. Do paper shipping labels, shopping bags, and post cards tell us anything about the nature of the museum, about the institutional values, or the role of the institution in the community? Some more than others, but as the collection grows and is supplemented by historical photographs, museum-produced videos, and oral histories, these ephemeral items that were designed to be part of the every day operation and business of the museum, will help illustrate the our growth into a world-class research museum of natural, cultural, and art history focused on the circumpolar north.

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University of Alaska Museum, ca. 1951. Alaska and Polar Regions Collections, UAF; John Sigler Photograph Collection. UAF-2004-111-1140.

 

Best in the West (or why I love WMA so much)

Each year, we compare and contrast the various options for professional conferences to attend. Meager funding means it better be of use to both my home institution as well as my own personal growth. In 2015, I opted for two – Museums Alaska (as outgoing President it’s pretty much required) and Western Museums Association (WMA).

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Our official #WMA2015 Facebook profile photo.

WMA 2015 took place in sunny San Jose, a community I visited for the first time in January of 2015. This is my first full year as a member of the Board of Directors of WMA and a January meeting at the conference hotel of the upcoming meeting is a tradition. With that two-day visit I was able to connect with members of the board and strike up some professional relationships that have already borne fruit. But what that visit really did was prepare me for the October conference by orienting me to the immediate area around the hotel and give me a taste of the community.

 

By the time October arrived, I was still reeling from a busy 4 days in Cordova for Museums Alaska, only three weeks prior. But my colleague, Della Hall, and I were ready to have a repeat performance as roomies and I was signed up to be her official conference mentor. Another UAMN colleague, Jonah Wright, was attending WMA for his first time and we were excited to absorb as much as possible over three days.

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Della, Jonah, and I enjoying music in the lobby of the Fairview.

Over a period of three days, Jonah, Della, and I each experienced our own unique conference – Jonah attended exhibit-focused sessions, Della and I went to collections sessions [two really generated a ton of discussion and thought: Understanding Image Copyright (is it possible?) and Long-Term Thinking about Collections Stewardship]. This year I yearned for more of the leadership track, and so I absorbed what I could from some of those I look to in our region as the movers and shakers, in sessions like Leading from the Position You Are In, Defining Leadership Across Generational Divides, and The Challenges of Leadership: Working with Governing Bodies. Each session gave me food-for-thought about how I want my career to blossom, identifying my own weaknesses and how to turn them around, as well as giving me a chance to acknowledge my own experiences and expertise as valuable. Rather than presenting at WMA 2015, I took on a role of inquirer. This year, I felt I was able to ask the questions many might be thinking, to dig deeper and get at the big questions of “why” and “how.” I was rewarded with answers that got many of us thinking and talking after the sessions.

A conference theme of “Listen – Learn – Lead” can take you in many directions if you let it. I love WMA conferences for this – whatever your entry point and level, you are able to step into a topic and get something valuable, bring it home, and put it to use. I reconnected with people I hadn’t seen in many years, from my RC-WR officer days, and made new connections with emerging professionals and esteemed leaders alike.

I now feel energized to go into the 2016 conference in Phoenix, ready to take on the conference theme of “Change“. This is a hard thing for an industry steeped in tradition, “best practices,” and “professional standards.” How can we push ourselves to grow and get better, while keeping true to our past? This is something I’ll be thinking a lot about in the next year.

Thanks #WMA2015 – you were a blast!

 

 

My first formal class in 15 years? History of Alaska with Terrence Cole (NORS 661)

Back in the Saddle Again

“Ph.D. Student”

This fall I took a monumental step in forwarding my education and career – in the spring of 2014 I was notified that I had been accepted into UAF’s Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program under the approved heading of Museum Studies, with a committee made up of some academic greats at UAF: Dr. Mary Ehrlander (my chair), Dr. Terrence Cole, Dr. Aldona Jonaitis, and Dr. Mike Koskey. Rounding out the committee with an old friend and great colleague, Dr. Holly Cusack McVeigh from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis.

My first class – NORS 461/661 History of Alaska  – was taught by Dr. Terrence Cole. What a great way to jump back into the classroom and into a topic that I had never formally studied, despite the fact that I had cared for thousands of historical objects and curated two special exhibitions that were historical in nature. After completing the class and reading hundreds (thousands?) of pages in our textbooks, articles, and additional books for the graduate portion of the class, I came to the conclusion that I love Alaska history and the project that I have concocted for this Ph.D. is going to be compelling and valuable and interesting and full of incredible stories. I can’t wait!

However… I will be undertaking this adventure while continuing to work full-time at the Museum, sooooo, it’s a long-term project with a completion goal of 2020 (a nice round number). If all goes as planned, I’ll have that Ph.D. before I turn 50 – which is also a nice round number.

The most important thing that I’ve realized is that I love my job more than ever before. I have a supportive network of people who are willing to contribute their ideas, stories, and perspectives to the mystery I’m attempting to uncover. I hope I can do them justice, and that through this undertaking, I can add something to our understanding of Alaska’s museums and help us all know more about the direction we want to go in the future.

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Guest Blog: Symmetry in Alaska Native Design

Over the past six weeks the Department of Ethnology & History at UAMN has hosted a graduate student intern from Indiana University, Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI). Rebekah Ryan is about to earn her MA in Museum Studies. This summer she traveled to Fairbanks to expand her experiences in collections work, working on archival enclosures for artifacts, taking photos of the collections both in the studio and lab, learning how to use the new Arctos database, and undertaking research in the collection. Each year, our intern creates an exhibition at the UAF Rasmuson Library in order to put their collections-based skills to a practical end. Rebekah was intrigued by the UAF Math in a Cultural Context program after a group of elders visited the museum to view objects. She developed the following ideas using our collections to illustrate concepts of symmetry in Alaska Native Design. You can see her exhibit at the Rasmuson Library 4th Floor, near the reference desk. If you want more information on this topic, you can add a comment below.

 


 

“When we make patterns, they must be pleasing to the eye.”

Dora Andrew-Ihrke –Yup’ik teacher (quoting her mother)

What is symmetry? Most of us have an instinctual sense of what symmetry looks or feels like, but it can be difficult to define. Dictionaries define “symmetry” with synonyms: balance, proportion, harmony, consonance. In Western mathematics, “symmetry” is a correspondence in size, form, and arrangement of parts on opposite sides of a plane, line, or point.

When creating things to use and appreciate, people often respond positively to balance: symmetry of design or ideology. This broader definition of symmetry is a common element of Alaska Native designs, from using body measurements to craft custom kayaks and parka decorations, to representing the cycle of the universe.

“The balance of life – the reciprocal relations between animals and humans – requires harmony, carefulness, and keen awareness…. Materials were fashioned into pleasing products that spoke to the spirit world. The spirit world had to be placated, and skillfully crafted products helped accomplish this; objects were made precisely, and with a high level of ingenuity and creativity, these crafts encoded mathematics.”

       – Yup’ik Cosmology to School Mathematics: the Power of Symmetry and Proportional Measuring

Many Alaska Native items were custom-made for their intended owners – symmetry of the tool and its user. One of the ways to do this was to use an individual’s body to make measurements for that item. Over time, the Yup’ik peoples developed a system of anthropomorphic (body) measurements and proportions that would create an agile and dependable kayak, or tailored clothing with symmetrical decorative patterns.

Kayak Measurements:  Courtesy of Kayak Scientific Design and Statistical Analysis

Kayak Measurements: Courtesy of Kayak Scientific Design and Statistical Analysis

Skin sewing has been a fundamental skill for generations of Alaska Native women: sound stitches protected their families during all kinds of weather. Patterns are often unique to a family or person, and when incorporated into clothing, are an important means of communicating identity.

When making a skin-sewn decoration, Yup’ik women have traditionally begun with a square based on an individual’s finger measurements. Once the square was folded along its lines of symmetry to confirm that it was perfect, the square could be divided into other shapes – squares, triangles, parallelograms – even circles.

(Watch videos on the UAF Math in a Cultural Context Website where Yup’ik elder Dora Andrew-Ihrke demonstrates these skills.)

Body Measure – “Knuckle Length” (2008) Ethnomatics Applied to Classrooms in Alaska: Math in a Cultural Context

Body Measure – “Knuckle Length” (2008) Ethnomatics Applied to Classrooms in Alaska: Math in a Cultural Context

Fannie Barr Displays the Interior of the Parka to Show Emily Barr’s Sewing on the Back of the Border. 2006 Photographer: James Magdanz. Courtesy Shared Beringian Heritage Program.

Fannie Barr Displays the Interior of the Parka to Show Emily Barr’s Sewing on the Back of the Border.
2006 Photographer: James Magdanz. Courtesy Shared Beringian Heritage Program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While early Alaska Native designers didn’t employ the same conceptual labels for symmetry that are used in Western mathematics, Western concepts can still be illustrated by Alaska Native objects.  The three fundamental types of symmetry are linear, radial, and point. A shape or design has linear symmetry when it can be folded on an imaginary line into two halves that could lie perfectly on top of one another.

Linear Symmetry

Linear Symmetry

When something has radial symmetry, an imaginary line can run through the object, and the object can rotate on that imaginary axis in such a way that the patterns on it will repeat themselves before making a full rotation. Radial symmetry can be present on something round and flat, like a plate, or something spherical, like a ball.

Radial Symmetry

Radial Symmetry

Point symmetry is a bit more complicated to understand. A design displays point symmetry when an element can be flipped 180º over an imaginary point to lie perfectly on the other element.

Point Symmetry

Point Symmetry

Bilateral & Radial Symmetry
Old Dominion University – OEG Sciences
http://www.ocean.odu.edu/~spars001/geology_112/laboratory/session_08/handout.html

Point Symmetry
Math is Fun
http://www.mathsisfun.com/geometry/symmetry-point.html

Tlingit Rattle-Top Basket (0840-0045AB)  This spruce root basket displays examples of linear and rotational symmetry on its side, lid and bottom. The final type of symmetry - point - can also be seen on the side of the basket. The “s” and “z”-shaped design is called the “shaman’s hat”, and the bands on the top and bottom face opposite directions. A black “z” that is diagonal from a black “s” could be flipped up and over an imaginary point between those two figures to lie perfectly on top of that black “s”.

Tlingit Rattle-Top Basket (0840-0045AB)
This spruce root basket displays examples of linear and rotational symmetry on its side, lid and bottom. The final type of symmetry – point – can also be seen on the side of the basket. The “s” and “z”-shaped design is called the “shaman’s hat”, and the bands on the top and bottom face opposite directions. A black “z” that is diagonal from a black “s” could be flipped up and over an imaginary point between those two figures to lie perfectly on top of that black “s”.

While it may seem to be more abstract than literal examples of symmetry, ideological symmetry plays an even more fundamental role in Alaska Native design. This can be seen in balanced representations of male and female forces, and depictions of the cyclical nature of the universe.

Pair of Yup’ik Earrings with the circle-and-dot design (UA70-017-0048AB) These earrings are decorated with the “circle and dot” decoration. A Cup’ik designer drilled the first hole, and used sharpened bone or metal tubes to carve concentric circles. When surrounded by four smaller dots, the circle and dot design has been identified to represent the pathway between the world of the living and the dead, and is associated with spiritual insight.

Pair of Yup’ik Earrings with the circle-and-dot design
(UA70-017-0048AB)
These earrings are decorated with the “circle and dot” decoration. A Cup’ik designer drilled the first hole, and used sharpened bone or metal tubes to carve concentric circles.
When surrounded by four smaller dots, the circle and dot design has been identified to represent the pathway between the world of the living and the dead, and is associated with spiritual insight.

Pair of Kayak Stanchions (UA82-003-0057AB) These kayak stanchions are used to physically and ideologically support a kayaker when he’s in the cockpit. The smiling male face and frowning female face represent the necessary balance of good and bad spirits in the universe; they protect the kayaker as he travels.

Pair of Kayak Stanchions (UA82-003-0057AB)
These kayak stanchions are used to physically and ideologically support a kayaker when he’s in the cockpit. The smiling male face and frowning female face represent the necessary balance of good and bad spirits in the universe; they protect the kayaker as he travels.

The last concept to consider is asymmetry. Symmetry would not exist without an opposite. In fact, Alaska Native designers often intentionally incorporate asymmetry to create interest or highlight significant details. Art historians describe this sort of well-executed design as “balanced asymmetry.”

Athabascan Wall Pocket  (UA64-021-0202) Notice the bilateral and radial symmetry of the foundational flowers and asymmetrical arrangement of the surrounding motifs creates a balanced decoration.

Athabascan Wall Pocket
(UA64-021-0202)
Notice the bilateral and radial symmetry of the foundational flowers and asymmetrical arrangement of the surrounding motifs creates a balanced decoration.

Alaska Native design is vibrant and complex, incorporating symmetrical properties that serve practical, aesthetic, and ideological purposes. Many of these techniques have been perfected over generations, and continue to be integrated into contemporary design.

Want to learn more? Use this guide to explore symmetry in Alaska Native Design throughout the Museum of the North!

Education- Exploring SymmetrySM

Guest Blog: Operation Sandcrab

Kirsten Olson provides another interesting piece of Alaskan history. This time, inspiration came to Kirsten while working on a collection of items deposited at UAMN via a repository agreement with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2012, USFWS transferred 93 items collected from Attu Island to the museum and Kirsten spent several months cataloging, researching, and curating these items. She painstakingly constructed customized archival boxes for each piece, from pieces of shrapnel to gas masks, toothbrushes to Japanese paper dolls. She discovered the human stories behind these rusted and damaged items, and developed a small exhibit, which is on display at the UAF Rasmuson Library 4th Floor until August 2014. ~~AJL

Guest blogger, Kirsten Olson here again, this time to honor our men in arms.  May 17th marks Armed Forces Day, so to recognize this day and our soldiers, I’d like to take a moment to shed some light on a pivotal, and an often-overlooked WWII battle, the Battle of Attu.


On June 7, 1942, with a force of 1,140 infantrymen, the Japanese attacked and captured the farthest west Aleutian island, Attu. This invasion, as well as a simultaneous assault on Kiska and the attack on Midway a few days earlier, marked the peak of the Japanese invasion of the United States through Alaska.

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It began as a quiet day for the 43 native residents of Attu, when they had been captured and taken as prisoners. They were held on the island for three months before they were sent to an interment camp in Hokkaido, Japan until the end of the war. They were never able to return to their island; instead they were relocated to Atka. (Image: UAA-HMC-0690-S1-1936-117a)

Etta and Foster Jones, the only white couple on the island, worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Etta as the schoolteacher and Foster operated the wireless radio, reporting on the weather to the navy station at Dutch Harbor.  When the Japanese invaded, Foster was sending in his daily weather report to the Naval post at Dutch Harbor, this time ending it with “The Japs are here!”  Foster had been taken in for questioning and executed, in front of his wife, who was then swiftly sent away to a prison camp in Japan.  (Left: UAF-1970-11-66, Right: UAF 1970-11-67)

Etta and Foster Jones, the only white couple on the island, worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Etta as the schoolteacher and Foster operated the wireless radio, reporting on the weather to the navy station at Dutch Harbor. When the Japanese invaded, Foster was sending in his daily weather report to the Naval post at Dutch Harbor, this time ending it with “The Japs are here!” Foster had been taken in for questioning and executed, in front of his wife, who was then swiftly sent away to a prison camp in Japan. (Left: UAF-1970-11-66, Right: UAF 1970-11-67)

The Japanese held control of Attu until May 11th, 1943 when members of the US 17th, 32nd Infantry Regiment, and a unit of Castner’s Cutthroats began the reoccupation of Attu Island.  It was a gruesome fight with not only the Japanese, but also the harsh weather conditions that are so typical of the Aleutian chain.

Seventeen-year- old Private Donald Lynch is treated by medics after remaining in a water-filled trench for more than twenty-four hours during enemy fire.  The Attu landing forces suffered heavily from exposure, particularly with trench foot, which was the case for Private Lynch.  Castner’s reconnaissance team had warned them of the cold weather conditions and had expressly advised against the use of the leather blucher boots, but to no avail.  The clothing and equipment issued to the 7th Division was neither warm enough to withstand the biting Aleutian winds nor waterproof enough to keep out the icy rain and the water that seeped into every foxhole.  (Image: ASL-P175-053)

Seventeen-year-old Private Donald Lynch is treated by medics after remaining in a water-filled trench for more than twenty-four hours during enemy fire. The Attu landing forces suffered heavily from exposure, particularly with trench foot, which was the case for Private Lynch. Castner’s reconnaissance team had warned them of the cold weather conditions and had expressly advised against the use of the leather blucher boots, but to no avail. The clothing and equipment issued to the 7th Division was neither warm enough to withstand the biting Aleutian winds nor waterproof enough to keep out the icy rain and the water that seeped into every foxhole. (Image: ASL-P175-053)

On May 29th, after weeks of fighting the enemy and the harsh weather conditions, the Japanese had broken the US troop line and fought for a steady thirty hours.  A strange turn of events took place after the initial fury of fire.   One final banzai charge sealed the ill fate of the Japanese, and the US had regained control of Attu.  The thundering of grenades faded and more than 1,000 Japanese lay dead.  The total Japanese loss was 2,500 men, 29 were captured alive.  Of the 15,000 US troops that landed, 550 were dead, 1,500 wounded, and 1,200 were victim to Attu’s climate.

The Combat Intelligence Platoon of Alaska Defense Command, nicknamed Castner’s Cutthroats, displaying their Japanese finds from Attu.  The items include a .30 caliber clip, sake bottle, infantry cap, belt of 1,000 stitches, flute, helmet, gloves, folding water bucket, three Japanese flags, port and starboard lanterns, 20mm high explosive shells, .25 caliber rifle with bayonet and pistol.  The Cutthroats were vital to the success of the war in Alaska by going on repeated reconnaissance missions, reporting weather, conditions, terrain, and advising authorities of necessary equipment and techniques for survival in remote regions.  The University’s own Ivar Skarland, who was first a student at the then Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, and ultimately served as the Director of the University Museum and chairman of the Division of Social Sciences, was also a voluntary member of the Platoon during the war.  (Photo by Al Brittain, former Alaska Scout, in Jim Rearden, “Castner’s Cutthroats” 1990)

The Combat Intelligence Platoon of Alaska Defense Command, nicknamed Castner’s Cutthroats, displaying their Japanese finds from Attu. The items include a .30 caliber clip, sake bottle, infantry cap, belt of 1,000 stitches, flute, helmet, gloves, folding water bucket, three Japanese flags, port and starboard lanterns, 20mm high explosive shells, .25 caliber rifle with bayonet and pistol. The Cutthroats were vital to the success of the war in Alaska by going on repeated reconnaissance missions, reporting weather, conditions, terrain, and advising authorities of necessary equipment and techniques for survival in remote regions. The University’s own Ivar Skarland, who was first a student at the then Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, and ultimately served as the Director of the University Museum and chairman of the Division of Social Sciences, was also a voluntary member of the Platoon during the war. (Photo by Al Brittain, former Alaska Scout, in Jim Rearden’s “Castner’s Cutthroats” 1990)

 

A soldier's badge.  One of many personal artifacts that is currently housed at the UA Museum of the North.  (UA2013-005-0049).

A soldier’s badge. One of many personal artifacts that is currently being housed at the UA Museum of the North. (UA2013-005-0049).

Today, Attu is a National Historic Landmark, with remnants from both the Japanese and US occupation.  The village that was once home to the islanders was destroyed during the war and never reestablished.  The LORAN station, which aided in navigating the Pacific Northwest both during and after the war, was established in 1946 but was shut down in 2010.  All that stands on the island are memorials for the fallen soldiers. We are forever grateful for the service of our men and women in arms, and their fight to protect our country and our freedoms.  Thank you.

 

Museums Advocacy Day 2014

Today is the 6th Annual Museums Advocacy Day, sponsored by AAM. Yesterday and today, museum professionals and supporters are gathering together in Washington D.C. to make the case for museums. This is a national effort to share the message that museums are essential (and therefore should be financially supported in ways similar to other “essential services” in our communities). In an attempt to reach our Alaskan legislators, Museums Alaska joined with the Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Alaska Humanities Forum, and the Alaska Historical Society to form CHAMP (Culture, Humanities, Arts, Museum Partners). Over several days, representatives from these organizations met together to learn about advocacy techniques, about each other’s priorities for 2014, and meet with legislators to communicate the essential role of these organizations to the well-being of our state.

Museums Alaska had as our number one priority, to develop new legislation to establish a matching grant program for museum capital projects, similar to the library program. Over these two days, we were able to find our own CHAMP, in Rep. Herron (Bethel). Introduced yesterday, House Bill 333 would establish a museum construction grant program. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but this first step is a major vote of confidence and improvement in the awareness of our legislators of the role museums play in our communities.

Take a minute today to tweet a comment #museumsadvocacy, post a photo on Facebook and use #museumsadvocacy to join in the online community! Museums are Essential!

My #museumselfie in the Denali Legacy exhibition at UAMN.

My #museumselfie in the Denali Legacy exhibition at UAMN.