Kodiak’s Alutiiq Museum received a grant from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Fund Trustee Council. And it’s a whopper; $8,000,000 will go towards renovating the museum. April Laktonen Counceller, Executive Director for the Alutiiq Museum says that it will change the floorplan and scope of the facility.
“Our gallery, the public part of our museum where visitors walk through and look at exhibits, the only critique that we ever hear is, ‘where’s the rest of the museum? What, is it just these two rooms?’ And we’re always saying, ‘Well, yeah, you know, but there’s- we’ve packed a lot of information into here. And so please, you know, walk through and let us know what you think.’ So that was one area that we definitely wanted to expand,” Counceller said.
The grant was awarded on Wednesday, during a meeting of the trustee council.
While the oil spill might not immediately seem related to the Alutiiq Museum, there’s a closer tie than one might think. Counceller says that the cultural impact that the spill and cleanup effort had was extreme.
“During the cleanup, there was a documentation of site disturbances by people who were working on the spill. There were some archaeological sites that were looted or damaged by people who were accessing remote parts of the archipelago that were not normally seeing human activity. Because of that, in 1993, the Kodiak Area Native Association secured a grant from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council to build the original first floor of our facility, which has primarily been our headquarters ever since then,” Counceller said.
Before they could get the grant to renovate the museum, there was one small hurdle; they didn’t actually own the building. According to Counceller, Koniag Incorporated recently purchased half of the building from Natives of Kodiak, and is in the process of donating it to the Alutiiq Heritage Foundation, which is the governing board of the museum. The first floor of the building is set to be donated soon by KANA, which would see the museum owning the whole facility.
The renovations are still in the early planning phase, and it will likely be years before they are completed.