Baranov Museum begins exacting process of moving collections in prep for renovation


Museum will be closed to public for approximately six months


There is a big moving project taking place downtown but it is unlikely you will notice it. The Baranov Museum this week began the laborious and exacting task of clearing the downstairs for a long-awaited and much-needed renovation.

The move itself is expected to take about a week and the museum will be closed to the public now through sometime in the spring as the oldest building in Alaska gets a make-over.

(Photo Courtesy of Baronov Museum.)

Unlike your basic home or office move, museum employees are literally using ‘the white glove treatment’ on the collection of historic, irreplaceable items. They are being taken upstairs to wait out the messy six-month renovation in a safe place.

Kodiak Historical Society’s Executive Director Sarah Harrington explains.


 “We all gather in the morning, and put on our white gloves so that way we can touch the artifacts. And we go downstairs, and we carefully remove each piece from every case and we put it on a piece of foam that’s carefully stacked onto a wheeling cart. We make sure collections numbers are carefully labelled and know where each piece is going to go.”


Harrington explained that museum collections can’t just move from here to there. Each item must be accounted for by number to ensure there is no mix-up. And a log entry must be made to show when and where it was moved.

Every. Single. Item. The big pieces, and the tiny beads and shards. One-by-one.

It is a pain-staking, super-detailed process, that might drive many bonkers. But it actually elicits a special joy for the museum director.


“It really is fun. Because you’re tracking each piece so carefully, you know, and with those white gloves. And slowly walking through the building and slowly walking up those deep, narrow stairs. You know, hollering up quickly to make sure that nobody’s going down as you approach up. And then meeting the separate team upstairs to see exactly where the artifact should be placed for the next six months, or indefinitely.”


While most of the current display will remain in the newly-refurbished museum area, some, as Harrington mentioned, will be put into permanent or long-term storage.

The Baranov Museum will be closed to the public through-out the reconstruction. Doors are expected to reopen in April or early May on a modern, well-lit display area designed specifically for the various pieces of the collection. Which must be moved back down to the display area using a similar process white glove process.

(Image Courtesy of Baranov Museum)


Go here to see what the new display areas will look like and what visitors can expect to see when the museum reopens.


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