If one point should be taken away from the community meeting at the Alutiiq Museum Tuesday evening, it’s that the museum is in need of space —much more space.

On a night focused on what the museum needs and can do with an expansion, the need for space in all activities from staff use to community use took up a large portion of the conversation.

“Having a meeting place in the museum would be ideal because we have Elder gatherings sometimes multiple times a week and we’re always searching for a place to be,” said Alisha Drabek, a community member who is a shareholder of Natives of Kodiak, Afognak Native Corporation and Koniag. “This space in here is good, but it could be bigger.

“It’s stressful for our Elders to be bouncing from location to location to location for gatherings. Public space is essential.”

Coral Chernoff, a local Alutiiq artist, would like someplace for people to work together.

“It would be nice to have a place in the facility where I could just come and sit and people can sort of wander in and out,” she said.

Drabek suggested a room with concrete flooring where a messy project could be completed with just a bit of shuffling furniture.

“You could do a concrete floor and come in there and skin a seal in the same space,” she said.

Staff said collection management space was insufficient and Baranov Museum director Katie Oliver said she doesn’t see the museum able to keep up with collections.

“I was also thinking collection storage in that I think the museum provides a really, really high standard of care both in terms of space and the way that it’s used and the dedicated staff that’s for collections,” she said. “As you progress you can’t really progress into more and more substandard care. You just have to keep maintaining that care. And so it seems natural that as … more collections are acquired … you’re going to need more collection space.”

Another space issue that came up concerns the museum’s store, currently tucked in and around the front desk.

“Everything in the museum — the purpose and the space — is very well defined except for the store,” Chernoff said. “That sort of seems to be like an afterthought of everything when it shouldn’t be.

“We’re here, we’re promoting Native art, and we’re promoting Native artists. We should have a more defined space.”

Sarah Kennedy, Alutiiq Museum store manager, said the store is key for the museum’s future.

“The only other revenue other than grants and donations that we’re getting is from the store,” she said. “Helping to promote more sales in the store is going to help us continue to grow as a museum.”

The possibility of a new building and making it green and subterranean to save on energy costs was briefly discussed.

Near Island has space available for the construction of a new building, but if a new one were to be built — nothing more than just a suggestion at this point — it most likely would not be built there.

“There’s spaces on Near Island but we really do want to be easily accessible to everybody,” Alutiiq Museum manager Katie St. John said. “We’ve had a fear of KANA and Koniag opening their buildings over there and Afognak is going to open their building over there. We don’t want to sort of make the Alutiiq Museum part of this sort of isolated Alutiiq community. We really want it to be part of the greater community.”

Mirror writer Louis Garcia can be reached via e-mail at lgarcia@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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