The Baranov Museum may get some funding next year for planned new exhibits with a new bill recently introduced in the Alaska Legislature.
The bill would provide matching grants for capital projects “for museum construction, expansion, and major renovation projects,” according to the text of Senate Bill 61, which Sen. Gary Stevens introduced on Wednesday as a companion bill to House Bill 52, sponsored by District 38 Rep. Bob Herron in January.
The Baranov Museum has plans to install all new exhibits on the first floor of the museum.
“We need to raise money at this point so we can install and build all the new exhibits,” said Anjuli Grantham, the advocacy chair for the Alaska Historical Society and the Baranov Museum’s curator of collections and exhibits.
This first year is just putting the framework in place for the funding, and no one will be asking for money this year, Grantham said.
“Since were not asking for money this year, just for the framework and the statute, we received a lot of encouragement,” Grantham said. “Pretty much everyone we spoke to (in Juneau) was encouraging.”
The Baranov Museum hopes to be requesting funding for the new exhibits next year.
The planning phase for the exhibits is done and construction is expected over the 2016-2017 winter, said museum executive director Tiffany Brunson.
“Ideally it would go through and be funded in 2016,” Brunson said.
However, that might not be a reality with the tight budget in the state, and Brunson said she’s not counting on that funding.
“The ideal is to create a pathway, and in the future, ask for funding for it,” Brunson said. “When gas prices go back up, and I’m sure they will, and the state has a little more money, we can ask for funding for that. We’ll already have the system in place.”
However, even if the SB 61 avenue doesn’t work out, the museum will be seeking funding to construct and install the new exhibits.
The Baranov Museum was established with centennial funding in 1967, 100 years after the purchase of Alaska.
“Never in the last 50 years have we had a really good comprehensive exhibit design, it’s been sort of piece-meal,” Brunson said. “This is our attempt to correct that and start from scratch, essentially, and make the exhibits all coherent and follow a timeline and be chronological and give a really good history to people who don’t know anything about Kodiak.”
Julie Herrmann is a staff reporter at the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact her at 486-3227 ext. 627.