The Museum of the Aleutians collects, preserves, and interprets the history of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. It is one of the only cultural institutions in the remote region and provides educational and cultural experiences for people who live in the area as well as tourists. Grants from the Alaska Humanities Forum (AHF), the state partner of the NEH, have helped the museum reach the public. And in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced museums around the state to close, an NEH CARES grant helped the museum keep its staff employed while developing online content to engage virtual audiences.
Over the years, consistent support from the AHF has helped the Museum of the Aleutians curate exhibitions and offer public events. In 2017, for example, an AHF grant helped the museum commemorate the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Dutch Harbor in Unalaska. In 2018, the museum used an AHF grant to create an exhibition that showcased Native Alaskan dolls from across the state’s cultural regions.
The Museum of the Aleutians plays a central role in community life on the Aleutian Islands, as well as an important role in preserving the history of the region for a broader audience. In addition to hosting exhibitions on the area’s history and an annual community art show, the museum holds a collection of archaeological and historical artifacts that document the region’s Unangax and Russian American heritage. During the COVID-19 pandemic, an NEH CARES grant helped the museum retain three staff members and meet its mission to preserve and provide access to the area’s history. With this funding, the museum digitized thousands of images from its photographic collections which it offered to schools and used in its social media. It has made the images accessible to the public and researchers by placing them on the Alaska Digital Archive. The museum has received feedback, including historical details, about names and places featured in the photographs, engaging an audience beyond the Aleutians Islands in the islands’ unique American heritage.