Mon, March 16, 2015

Support for Museum Capital Projects

Senator Gary Stevens introduced SB-61, a bill that would provide state matching funds for museum capital projects. This is a companion bill to HB-52, sponsored by Representative Bob Herron of Bethel.

”A recent study of 36 Alaskan museums and cultural centers showed that 75% are planning for major capital projects over the next five years. SB-61 and HB-52 provide a pathway so that museums around the state can access state matching funds to finance these projects,” explained Jane Lindsey, advocacy chair for Museums Alaska. “The top four priorities for projects are exhibition space expansion or improvement, increase in facility size, collections storage expansion, and security.”

Several museums within Senator Stevens’ District P are planning for major capital projects, including the Baranov Museum in Kodiak, the Pratt Museum in Homer, and the Cordova Historical Museum in Cordova. ”At the Baranov Museum, we will be installing all new exhibits. This includes the entire first floor of the museum,” says Tiffany Brunson, Executive Director of the Baranov Museum. ”The museum construction matching grant program would help us to raise the money to pay for this major undertaking.”

The museum matching grant program is modeled off the state matching grant program developed for libraries. The library program has successfully funded the construction of new libraries around the state, including the Kodiak Public Library.

”In 2017, Alaska is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Purchase of Alaska. When we celebrated the 100 year anniversary of the purchase in 1967, new museums were founded around the state. Now, many of those original museums need to be upgraded. We see the museum matching grant program as a way to invest in the cultural heritage of Alaska as we gear up for this upcoming milestone in the history of Alaska,” said Anjuli Grantham, advocacy chair for the Alaska Historical Society.

Please submit letters of support for HB52 and SB61 to Representative Herron’s office and Senator Steven’s office. These letters will show that a statewide matching grant program for museum capital projects is needed and supported around the state. Below is a sample letter that you can modify:

March 16, 2015
Alaska State Capitol
Room xxx
Juneau, AK  99801

Dear <<Elected_Official>>:

I am contacting you today to ask you to support HB-52 [or SB-61], establishing a museum construction grant program.  Research shows that almost half of all museums in the state are either currently involved in a construction project or will be in the next five years. That is incredible. This bill provides the structure for establishing a systematic approach to prioritizing museum capital project funding requests in the state.

Museums and cultural organizations in Alaska are a critical part of the educational and economic infrastructure, spurring tourism and partnering with schools to teach the local curriculum. They contribute to our economy and well-being by:

  • Employing over 260 Alaskans;
  • Spending over $23,553,294 annually in the State;
  • Hosting over 624,695 visitors annually;
  • Serving over 36,290 school children annually.

Despite this vital role of museums, our facilities and collections are at risk through decreasing federal, local and charitable giving.  As collections grow and visitation increases, the pressure on our aging infrastructure must be managed.  The _________Museum is no stranger to this trend. <<Your Museum Current Situation>>

<<Your stakeholder Story here>>

I urge you to support HB-52 [or SB-61], establishing a museum construction grant program, so that museums throughout the state of Alaska may continue to serve their communities.  Help us make this bill a reality, speak up for Alaska’s museums!


<<Your Name>>
<<Your affiliation>>