On March 8, the Friends of Sheldon Jackson Museum was informed that as part of the governor’s budget, the state will consider selling the museum and its collection of artifacts and the Stratton Building (the former Sheldon Jackson campus library).
The suggestion of the state “divesting itself” of the Sheldon Jackson Museum is akin to the U.S. government suggesting it divest itself of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. A few of the reasons this is so wrong:
- This museum’s collection contains important artifacts of historic, cultural and material heritage representing all of Alaska’s Native people. The museum is the “storage place for these artifacts … but they are owned by the people of Alaska.”
- The museum is the caretaker of more than 6,000 objects associated with Native groups that are used in sacred ceremonies. The museum and its professional staff, who have special skills and abilities, can care for the objects so they will not degrade and or be seriously compromised.
- If the facility was sold, the collection could be in danger of being broken up and auctioned off around the world.
- The museum is one of the top tourist attractions in Sitka. Last year alone, the museum attracted 14,012 visitors, generating $42,175 in revenue.
- The collection is held in the public trust and ethically and morally cannot be sold. The contract at the time of the state purchasing the museum states the collection is a single entity and not to be dispersed.
- It is a source of revenue for the state and pays for its upkeep through admission fees. It is not an “unused property.”
The Friends of Sheldon Jackson Museum is anxious to connect with anyone interested in assisting us with this task of saving the museum.
— Friends of Sheldon Jackson Museum Board
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