Juneau-Douglas City Museum closes for upgrade

Posted: Thursday, December 26, 2002

Long awaited improvements will shut down the Juneau-Douglas City Museum for the month of January.

"It will range from things no one will see to things that will really look good," said museum curator Mary Pat Wyatt. "There will be a lot of nice little things that will add up."

The building was originally constructed as the city library 50 years ago and 13 years ago it became home to the city museum. Since the walls were covered with bookshelves, few electrical outlets were installed. Most of the work will be modernization of the electrical system.

"You plug in one too many coffee pots for a reception and blow the breakers," Wyatt said.

A short wall inside the entrance will be torn out to enlarge the lobby. One room, which has been a video room and a children's room, will be completely remodeled.

"The video room will change back to a children's discovery room," Wyatt said. "They'll be ripping out the ceiling, taking out the fluorescent lights, replacing the ceiling and putting in track lighting."

During the summer the room has been used as a small theater to show a video on Juneau's history. That will continue, but October through April the area will be set up as a hands-on history room for kids.

"We don't have enough money to do both things all the time, but we know our audience well enough," said Jane Lindsey, who coordinates educational and public programs at the museum.

Kids will be able to dress up in vintage and historic clothing and hats and play with old-fashioned wooden toys.

"We'll have a reading area, an old-fashioned play kitchen, a touch board with furs from animals around the area and a historic school room with activities that take them out into the museum," Lindsey said.

Ground-level lights will be installed outside to dramatically light the totem poles and the Alaska and American flags. The building features two large stained glass windows and lights will be installed to illuminate the windows at night.

"I think its going to be really pretty," Wyatt said. "It's dark here so often in the winter - it'll be a really nice thing."

The museum will close Jan. 1 and reopen Feb. 7 with an exhibit of wearable art and the debut of the new children's room.

"In the end it will bring this nice little building up to speed," Wyatt said.

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.

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