A new grant program will help the Baranov Museum care for some of its aging baskets this year. Museums Alaska is the statewide museum association and recently received funds from the Rasmuson Foundation to create a new program for Alaska’s museums and cultural centers. The program is the called the collections management fund and provides money for conservation work, or anything related to improving the care and management of artifacts and museum collections.
Anjuli Grantham is the curator of collections at the Baranov Museum, which recently received $9,500 from the collections management fund. She said the funds will be put toward conserving the museum’s basket collection.
“We have a very valuable basket collection and quite a special basket collection, especially for a small Alaska museum. The Kodiak Historical Society has been collecting baskets since it really opened in the ‘50s. And we have a couple hundred baskets within our collection from all areas within Alaska but mostly the bulk of our baskets are from the Aleutians and from Kodiak itself. And so most of them are grass baskets and we also have some spruce root baskets.”
Grantham said many of the baskets have been on exhibit within the museum for decades, some since 1967 when museum first opened.
“As a result of this continuous exposure to light and also to handling, some of them are in poor condition. Also because some of them are, you know, over 100 years old. So I identified around 10 baskets within the collection that are in need of conservation treatment. That means that they can be repaired or they need to be stabilized in some way.”
She said they plan on using the grant funds to hire Tom Fuller, a conservator from Corvallis, Oregon.
“He has been working in conservation for nearly 40 years now and he comes highly recommended. He will be coming to Kodiak and will be here for two weeks at the museum specifically to conserve around 10 baskets within our collection.”
While in Kodiak, Grantham said Fuller will also put on a workshop for museum professionals, basket collectors and weavers. The workshop will focus on different ways to care for baskets to extend their life.
All of the baskets Fuller will work on conserving will be included in the redesign exhibits, which will most likely open some time in 2016. Grantham said they aren’t exactly sure when Fuller will come to Kodiak, but they are tentatively planning for the first two weeks of February.