Museum curator Bruce Kato will be missed

Posted: Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bruce Kato is retiring as the chief curator of the Alaska State Museum. It will be difficult to find someone equally qualified, and with the ability to lead an excellent staff, as he has done.

I remember how more than 30 years ago, I was asked to serve temporarily as the curator of collections at the museum, after the administration created some serious problems. There was a complete inventory taken of the collection and new policies were set in place. A few years later, Bruce took over as chief curator. He has enlisted a superb staff and our state museum has become, in my opinion, one of the finest in the nation.

What Bruce was able to do was understand the big picture of what our State Museum should be, and work with all the other curators in a quiet, unobtrusive way, and to slowly build a whole new system. Several years ago, I was contacted by Spanish museum officials to see if I could persuade Bruce to come to Spain and explain how he had built and maintained a fine relationship with Natives and the community. Internationally, they had recognized his accomplishments.

One seldom saw Bruce in the forefront, or in the media. He simply stayed behind the scenes, administered the museum, supported new and innovative programs and he made sure we had the best collection experts, conservators, exhibitors, security and personnel he could find.

As one who has worked with, used and benefited from the presence of the collection and staff of the Alaska State Museum (and as a member of our community), I would like to say, "Thank you, Bruce, we will miss you at the heart of the museum. It will be hard to find someone of your stature to replace you."

Wallace Olson

Professor of Anthropology Emeritus, University of Alaska Southeast

Auke Bay

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