Dissertation Work: Step 1 – General Survey

Those of you who know me know I’ve been enrolled in UAF’s Interdisciplinary (INDS) Ph.D. program since 2014. Working towards a Ph.D. while working full-time and being a mom and wife is no easy task, which is why it’s taken me five years to complete my courses, three field papers (comps), and advance to candidacy (May 2019). My project is centered on the past, present, and future of Alaska’s museums and I’m framing that project within these research questions:

  1. How has the historical context from which Alaska’s three large museums grown ( Alaska State Museums, UA Museum of the North, and Anchorage Museum) impacted their mission, vision, and values?
  2. How are museums in Alaska responding the the needs of modern Alaskans?
  3. How have the laws and ethics that govern American and Alaskan museums changed over the past 100 years and how have those changes impacted what we collect and the stories we tell in our galleries?
  4. What is the future direction of the Nation’s (and the world’s) museums and how will Alaska measure up and respond to these changes?
  5. How do the different approaches of sharing and preserving cultural heritage manifest themselves in traditional museums and Indigenous cultural centers, and how can each type of institution learn from the other to provide the best service to our varied constituents?

The first phase of my research involves getting a sense of what Alaskans think about our museums and how they feel while they’re in them. Are we creating spaces where people feel welcome? Do our community members feel compelled to participate in what we do? Are we achieving the most basic elements of our missions? Do our communities even think museums are relevant in the 21st century?

If you’re interested in helping me start this first step, please complete this very short survey and tell me, anonymously if you want, how you feel about Alaska’s museums and the work we’re doing. Lay it all out there and be totally honest – that’s the point! And feel free to share with your community members, especially if you’re from outside our urban centers. While my research is centered on the three major urban museums, they exist within the context of the dozens of community museums statewide. Part of my goal is also to show how much the bigger museums can learn from our smaller, community-based museums, in being a good neighbor and providing a safe gathering space for events and activities of all kinds.

Please share your ideas with me! I look forward to reading them and sharing more of my research progress on the pages of this blog. Thank you in advance for being part of this work.

Direct link to survey: https://forms.gle/8TJWe4aLPhkRcsQt6

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