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Exhibit variety plan for Sitka museum

Posted: April 13, 2014 - 11:03pm

SITKA — Rotating artifacts and themed exhibits are part of the Sitka Historical Society’s plan to make their museum a more dynamic place to learn about Sitka’s past.

Sitka Historical Society Executive Director Hal Spackman spoke at Wednesday’s Chamber of Commerce lunch and explained that the society is revamping its approach to telling Sitka’s story.

“I hope for other people it’s a rebirth of the Sitka Historical Society,” Spackman said.

Central to the change is the idea of making the museum at the Centennial Hall less static by rotating exhibits that focus on different aspects of Sitka history.

“Museums are changing. Historical societies are changing,” Spackman said.

“We have a different population that goes to museums now.”

The Historical Society already has a handful of exhibits planned, the first of which kicks off tonight with an art auction and fundraiser. The first exhibit, titled “The Past Inspires the Present,” features artwork by locals that was inspired by museum artifacts. The art exhibit will run through the end of May when it will give way to an exhibit on the Coast Guard in Sitka, that will run for the summer.

Spackman said many of these exhibits are going to lean on community support for donations of artifacts. Speaking about a sportsman’s exhibit planned to open in October, Spackman said it should be easy for Sitkans to pack the museum with guns, photographs, artifacts and stories.

“Almost everybody in Sitka is an outdoorsman. Almost everyone has a story,” Spackman said.

For that reason, the Historical Society is also planning a “Sitka Stories” exhibit for 2015. It will be the fourth exhibit to rotate through the museum. All this, Spackman said is meant to develop a continuing interest in the local museum.

“This what I want people to say: when is the last time you’ve been to the museum?” Spackman said.

The new direction for the Sitka Historical Society comes with other initiatives, such as trying to get involved in the schools, and using an enhanced media presence for telling weekly stories about Sitka’s past. The goal is to broaden the interest in local history, and Spackman said the society doesn’t want to wait until Centennial Hall is renovated to start their work.

“We don’t want to wait till the new museum gets here,” Spackman said. “We want to prove we’re going to be a good steward.”

In turn, Spackman said, he’s hoping the community will want to get involved.

By drumming up more interest in history, Spackman is hoping the community will start thinking about the past and develop their own ideas for possible museum exhibits or contributions.

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