The fifty-year anniversary of the Good Friday Earthquake, the record-breaking, 9.2-magnitude quake that necessitated the relocation of the entire town to its present site and resulted in 32 lives lost from Valdez, has prompted the Valdez Museum to work with the City of Valdez and other organizations to facilitate a series of events throughout the year.
The museum’s Remembering Old Valdez Exhibit, at 436 S. Hazelet Avenue, will be open to the public for additional hours of operation beginning on March 27. The extended season will provide extra opportunities for the public to see all that ROVE has to offer. Remembering Old Valdez features the museum’s award-winning documentary “Between the Glacier and the Sea,” telling the story of Valdez’s Gold Rush and earthquake history. The centerpiece to the attraction is a 1:20 scale model of Valdez as it appeared in 1963 – one year before the quake – accompanied by photographs and an interpretive booklet. Other highlights include a touch-screen kiosk featuring personal interviews with earthquake survivors, a furnished section of an Old Town house, and exhibits about Valdez’s firefighting history.
The Valdez Museum also commemorates another significant historical event that coincidentally occurred on a Good Friday, the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez collided with Bligh Reef, spilling an estimated 10.5 to 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound. Working in concert with the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council, the museum has arranged for an RCAC presentation in Valdez classrooms on March 24 to commemorate the anniversary.
The museum is also working with PWSRCAC to build content about EVOS on its new website. It will feature as many as 20 oral histories of people impacted from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. These 20, consist of 10 previously recorded recordings from “The Spill: Personal stories from the Exxon Valdez Disaster,” as well as 10 that are newly recorded. In August, the museum will host author and former Valdez resident, Angela Day, for a book launch and signing of her latest tome, “Red Light to Starboard: Recalling the Exxon Valdez Disaster.”
March 2014 also includes the unveiling of the museum’s newest permanent upgrade, “A Moving Experience: A Look Back at the Good Friday Earthquake.” Funded in part by the City of Valdez and the Rasmuson Foundation, this upgrade to the museum’s earthquake exhibit at its main site features an all-new look at the experience of the earthquake and its effects on Valdez, featuring rarely-seen artifacts and photographs from the museum’s collection.
The summer of 2014 includes a traveling temporary exhibition. Entitled “Communities, Disaster & Change,” the exhibition provides a twist on the earthquake commemoration through its connection with other communities and other disasters. Funded in part by the Western States Arts Federation, the City of Valdez, the Rasmuson Foundation, and Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., “Communities, Disaster and Change,” features artwork in a variety of media by 28 of Alaska’s finest artists. Reacting to the theme of how artists and communities relate to their own experience with natural disasters, the exhibit will be accompanied by a full-color catalogue.
“Communities, Disaster and Change” will be on display at the Valdez Museum from May to September, 2014, before touring to Homer, Cordova, Fairbanks, Juneau, Kaneohe, Hawaii, and Coos Bay, Oregon.
Throughout the year, the Museum’s education and public programs department will be creating new educational tools and improved interpretive models that teaches about the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake and its impact on Valdez. The activities will promote a better understanding of Old Town, its origin and dynamic history, for Valdez K-12 school children and a wider array of multi-generational learners. They will demonstrate the science of earthquakes and tsunamis in general, and in particular, the nature of the local tsunami and earthquake that had an impact on Old Town and changed the history of Valdez.