Kodiak’s Alutiiq Museum has been awarded a $143,460 federal grant to expand its efforts to attract more tourists.
The money is from the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) and the U.S. Forest Service. The Alutiiq Museum was one of six Native organizations across the country to receive over a hundred thousand dollars in grant funding.
April Counceller is the executive director of the museum and says these funds will go towards three specific projects – a mural design contest for the exterior of the building, a statewide advertising campaign and a new living culture gallery.
“In our application we proposed a section of our upcoming new gallery and the area that they are supporting is for the contemporary culture,” Counceller said. “So we’re calling it the fire gallery or Keneq gallery, and it’s all about sharing the living traditions of our Alutiiq people.”
The Alutiiq Museum is currently undergoing renovations and will be closed until work is expected to be finished at the end of next year.
But once the museum reopens, Counceller says the new gallery or Keneq in Alutiiq, will inform more people about all things Alutiiq. That includes Native artists, culture bearers and language revitalization.
“We want people to understand that we have a living culture and it’s not something that is just static or in the past,” she said.
Another new exhibit set to open when museum renovations are completed will feature a traditional atkuk.
Similarly, Counceller said the new statewide advertising campaign will help get more people through the door. The museum has had fewer than 10,000 visitors annually in years past, but the federal funding boost could double that number.
“Even if it is people within our local community or if it’s tourists or other visitors,” Counceller suggested. “And I think there are definitely more people out there that are interested in what we offer that may not really know what we have to offer yet.”
Until the museum reopens next year, Counceller encourages locals and visitors alike to check out the Alutiiq Store inside the Kodiak Marketplace, downtown at the mall.
In order to qualify for this grant funding, the Alutiiq Museum had to demonstrate “historic ties” to the U.S. Forest Service. The chief curator at the museum, Amy Steffian, says their relationship with the Forest Service goes back decades, when the agency was managing land on Afognak Island for the Afognak Forest and Fish Culture Reserve. Steffian says the museum also stores U.S. Forest Service items at its building.
Plans are also already underway for the upcoming mural contest through the grant funding. Counceller says interested artists can expect more information to be released in the next few months