The Sitka History Museum Acquires Works by Local Artists [January 2016]


Kristy Griffin
Curator of Collections and Exhibits | The Sitka History Museum
(907) 747-6455 or


The Sitka History Museum Acquires Works by Local Artists


Cloack of the Aurora Waist Robe

Figure I. Cloak of the Aurora Waist Robe by Teri Rofkar


[Sitka, Alaska] January 12, 2016

The Sitka History museum has acquired five works from Sitka artists for its permanent collections. These works entered the collections through an acquisition made possible with the generous support from the Museums Alaska Art Acquisition Fund, sponsored by Alaska’s Rasmuson Foundation. The Fund, first launched in 2003 by Rasmuson Foundation, provides grants to qualified Alaska cultural centers and museums for the collection of contemporary work by living, resident Alaska artists.

“When applying for the Art Acquisition Funds, we intentionally selected each work of art for its ability to enhance our permanent collection and exhibits, and for its capacity to tell a story unique to Sitka and Southeast Alaska,” said the Sitka History Museum’s Curator of Collections and Exhibits, Kristy Griffin.   “We are delighted at the opportunity to display these significant works for the education and enjoyment of the public and are thrilled to support local artists.”

The $23,400.00 grant from the Museum Alaska Art Acquisition Fund supported the Sitka History Museums purchase of the following five new works of art:

Mark Bartlett’s painting U.S.S. Jamestown–The U.S.S. Jamestown was present in Sitka in 1867 during the transfer of Russia’s claims on Alaska to the United States, and later returned to Sitka in 1879. The painting was created specifically for exposition in the Sitka History Museum’s exhibit, The Past Inspiring the Present. This exhibit marked the beginning of the Museum’s commitment to offer new, dynamic, and varied perspectives of Sitka’s history, as reimagined through the eyes of contemporary artists.

Norman Campbell’s drawing The Watchman was also explicitly created for the Sitka History Museum’s exhibit, The Past Inspiring the Present. A 1933 photo taken by Sitka’s own Photo Shop Studio, which captured the grandeur and mystery of a precariously balanced stalwart rock, motivated Campbell to venture outside of his invented landscape style to capture the almost unbelievable boldness of the natural Southeast Alaskan scene.

Nicholas Galanin’s photographic print, Ism 1, is a visual juxtaposition of two different belief systems. Beginning with the idea of the “heavy and real” influence of cultural assimilation on Native Alaskans by missionaries, Galanin uses photography to graphically marry a Tlingit shaman mask with Christian iconography in order to explore the long-lasting issues resulting from their interactions.

Tommy Joseph’s Blue Man Helmet takes its inspiration from Tlingit warrior helmets worn for protection in battle. Tommy Joseph/ Naal xák’w, a Tlingit Master Carver, is informed by the traditional art of the Tlingit and utilizes traditional tools and methods. However, Joseph states that he works in the present, using Tlingit iconography to carve new stories about the people around him.

Teri Rofkar’s Cloak of the Aurora Waist Robe is a complimentary piece to her upcoming Cloak of the Aurora Robe, the second in her Tlingit Superman series. Teri Rofkar/ Chaas’ koowu tlaa is a renowned Tlingit artist, internationally recognized for her Raven’s Tail weaving, a nearly lost art form. This latest project unites traditional designs and contemporary materials in an effort to keep Tlingit weaving relevant for future generations.

The Sitka History Museum endeavors to educate the public about the dynamic and multifaceted nature of interpretations of Sitka’s past by combining art and artifacts in its new museum. Executive Director, Hal Spackman, said “The Sitka History Museum plans to display original works by local artists. Artistic representations of Sitka’s heritage promise to enrich museum visitors’ experiences.”

The works of art will be on view in the new Sitka History Museum, opening in Spring of 2017.

Visitor Information

The Sitka History Museum will close for the duration of the Harrigan Centennial Hall renovation. The Sitka Historical Society Office of the Executive Director will maintain offices open to the public at the Geodetic Survey House (White House) at 210 Seward Street in Sitka, Alaska during the closure. Please call (907) 747-6455 for an appointment.

About the Sitka Historical Society and Museum

The Sitka Historical Society is a 59 year old organization which operates the Sitka History Museum. The Society’s mission is to preserve and promote the events, stories and artifacts of the human history of Sitka, as part of the Pacific Northwest coast of North America, to inspire, educate and benefit the Public and future generations. The museum has amassed one of the most diverse and largest collections in Sitka comprised of over 8,000 three-dimensional artifacts, several hundred paintings, prints, and examples of fine art, a spectacular collection of nearly 25,000 historic photographs, and more than 100,000 archival documents, all ranging from the 1740s until the present day.