Sealaska Heritage


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Move to begin this week

24 February 2015

Sealaska Heritage Institute will partner with Sitka National Historical Park to move its collection of objects into the new Walter Soboleff Building in Juneau.

A little-known clause in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) authorizes the National Park Service as part of the Department of Interior to offer advice, support and technical expertise to ANCSA corporations and Native groups in the preservation, management, display and interpretation of cultural resources.

Through the service, known as the Statewide Cultural Assistance Program, a curator with the Sitka National Historical Park will travel to Juneau for a week to help professional staff at Sealaska Heritage move ethnographic, art and archeological objects from Sealaska to the Walter Soboleff Building downtown.

About a half dozen groups have tapped the service in the past twenty years, said Sitka National Historical Park Superintendent Mary A. Miller, noting the program is a natural fit for SHI as it moves collections to its new facility.

"We are pleased to be able to offer up professional assistance to Sealaska Heritage and to help play a small role in the opening of the Soboleff building," Miller said.

It's the first time the institute has moved its collections on such a large scale, and the curatorial assistance will contribute to the efforts being taken to carry out the move according to museum-quality preservation standards.

"We just recently learned of this provision in ANILCA and it will be of great help to us as we begin moving our collections," said SHI President Rosita Worl. "This is a wonderful opportunity and a very significant partnership."

The curator will work with the institute's archivist to ensure there are controls for tracking collections during the move and that the new storage locations are documented in SHI's electronic catalog database, among other things. The curator, Kelsey Lutz, will be in Juneau on Monday, Feb. 23, and stay through the end of week. 

The pieces will be moved to new compact storage units customized for the environmentally-controlled storage area in the new building. Purchase of the storage equipment was funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which also is funding the construction of preservation-quality storage boxes and mounts for the collections.

Sealaska Heritage Institute was founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. CONTACT: Chuck Smythe, Culture and History Director, 907.586.9282