The Sitka History Museum’s Kicks Off Capital Campaign at New Year’s Eve Gala [January 2016]


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


The Sitka History Museum’s Kicks Off Capital Campaign at New Year’s Eve Gala


Balloons Rain Down at the Stroke of Midnight

[Sitka, Alaska] January 6, 2016
The Sitka History Museum announced the start of its capital campaign during the museum’s inaugural New Year’s Eve Gala. The proceeds from the sold-out event raised $65,925.00 towards the museum’s goal of $585,000.00. The capital campaign, the first in the fifty-nine year history of the Sitka Historical Society and Museum, will support the design and construction of new museum’s exhibits debuting in Spring of 2017 following renovations to Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The gala took place at Sweetland Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus in Sitka, Alaska and featured a silent auction and a four-course gourmet dinner prepared by Chef Donte King of the Sitka Fine Arts Camp. Sitka Historical Society Executive Director, Hal Spackman emceed the event, and guests danced the night away to the premier of Sitka’s new eighteen-piece swing orchestra, the Sitka Sound Big Band.

Donations of money, goods, equipment, time, sweat, and artistic talent poured in from the community.  Seven organizations sponsored a table at the event, each with a $5,000.00 donation. Those organizations included Balanced Accounting Solutions, Allen Marine Tours, White’s Inc., Silver Bay Seafoods, CBC Construction, SEARCH, and Hames Corp. Clayton Construction donated an additional $1,000.00. The surprise announcement of the night came in the form of a $20,000.00 donation from the Hames Family.

Silver Basin and Old Harbor Books sold tickets for the event, AC Value Center donated prime rib, Sitka Sound Seafoods donated halibut, salmon spread and black cod tips, and The Nugget Restaurant hosted an open bar. The Sitka High School Girls’ Basketball team provided table service for the dinner, Jan Love managed the silent auction, and Sitka Tours ran complimentary shuttle transportation throughout the event. John and Sheryn Ferrick organized the gala décor, aided by a team of decoration volunteers including Caldwell Lewin, Simon Connelly, Holli Carter, Cathy Shaffer, Bob and Jan Love, Ernie Massey, Bob Peel, Shelia Finkenbinder, Linda Williams, Hunter Lewin, Cole Lewin, Carrie Spackman, Mary Boose, Krystle Weddle, and the Sitka Youth Home. Birch Equipment donated parking lot flood lights and Bob Peel constructed the band stand for the Sitka Sound Big Band, which also graciously offered their services to the benefit gala.

Executive Director Hal Spackman said, “The overwhelming contribution from the community made this event a success. I know that I speak on behalf of myself, museum staff, and the Board of Directors when I say that we are just blown away by everyone’s generosity. The Sitka History Museum has always striven to support the preservation of this community’s heritage and this New Year’s Eve the Community honored our commitment with their ongoing support.”

During the gala, Spackman also introduced the museum’s newly-hired exhibit designer, Terence Healy of HealyKohler Design. Over the next year, the Washington, D.C. based firm will work with Sitka History Museum Curator, Kristy Griffin, museum staff and community representatives to develop a design for the new museum’s permanent exhibit and debuting temporary exhibit.

Griffin said, “If this New Year’s gala proves anything, it is that the very best things occur in Sitka when we come together. Just as it took hundreds of people to make this gala a success, it will take many more willing to lend their knowledge and creativity to ensure that museum exhibits continue to promote and preserve the history of this unique place. It takes a village to make a museum great, and nowhere have I ever seen a community more passionate about its cultural heritage than Sitka.” Sitkans wishing to participate in discussions regarding exhibit design should contact Griffin at for more details.

With the strong start provided by the New Year’s Eve gala, the Sitka History Museum plans to continue its fundraising efforts. Donations can now be made online at and will also be accepted at the museum’s upcoming program commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Fire, held at 6:30PM on January 22nd at the Sheet’ka Kwann Naa Kahidi House.

Tickets for the Museum’s second annual firearms raffle are still available and can be purchased at Orion Sporting Goods, the Pioneer Bar, the Sitka Elks Lodge, or by contacting the Sitka History Museum. The drawing will begin at 5PM on January 31stt at the Sitka Elks Lodge, and all proceeds will go to support exhibit design and construction for the new museum. Spackman said, “We still have a long way to go to reach our goal of $585,000.00, but tonight, surrounded by 700 balloons and so many people cheering on our efforts, I believe we can do it.”

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.