Collections

Learn how Ketchikan Museums own, exhibit, share, and accept donations of collection artifacts.

Ketchikan Museums, in partnership with the Tongass Historical Society, provide stewardship of artifacts and archives that showcase the Ketchikan area’s unique history.

Collections

Learn how Ketchikan Museums own, exhibit, share, and accept donations of collection artifacts.

Ketchikan Museums, in partnership with the Tongass Historical Society, provide stewardship of artifacts and archives that showcase the Ketchikan area’s unique history.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Collection Stewardship

  • The museum owns, exhibits, or uses collections that are appropriate to our mission.

  • The museum legally, ethically and effectively manages, documents, cares for the collections.

  • The museum’s collection-based research is conducted according to appropriate scholarly standards.

  • The museum strategically plans for the use and development of its collections.

  • Guided by our mission, the museum provides public access to its collections while ensuring their preservation.

  • The museum strives to meet the American Alliance of Museums Core Standards.

Museum staff examine a new donation of political buttons.

Explore archaeological, natural history, and historical object data deep from the archives including audio-visual artifacts, photographs such as a negative film, glass plate negatives, and digital images, newspapers and beyond.

THE HIGHEST STANDARDS

Taking Care of the Collection

Grants from Museums Alaska, the Alaska State Museum and others have allowed us to continue to upgrade how we care for the collection. In recent years, we’ve rehoused textiles and artwork, expanded the security system, purchased archival cases and digitized out-of-date media thanks to this grant support. We strive to follow the museum field’s best practices to ensure the safety of the collection in perpetuity.

COLLECTIONS MANAGEMENT POLICY
Museum staff annually use specialized equipment to clean objects on exhibit.

WE ARE HONORED TO RECEIVE DONATIONS

Donating to the Collection

We are honored to receive donations from the community (and often former community members living outside of Alaska)! If you have a family heirloom, historical documents and just something interesting from Ketchikan’s past, please consider a donation to the Museum.

We often put calls out for particular items on social media to help address gaps in our collection or special needs for an upcoming exhibit. If you are interested in making a donation, we invite you to complete a Donor Questionnaire providing us with information about your offer. Please contact the Senior Curator of Collections or call (907) 225-5600.

Donations to the Museums’ collections follow a process in accordance with standards and guidelines supported by the American Alliance of Museums. When a donation is offered, the donor is asked to complete a Temporary Custody Receipt. This gives the Museum Department permission to consider the gift for the collection.

The Acquisition Review Committee meets monthly to consider all new donation offers. We evaluate them based on their connection to our mission, whether there is documentation and history for the artifact, whether the piece is already represented in the collections, and its condition. Other criteria specific to each donation is also considered. If accepted by the Committee, the donor will be issued a Deed of Gift. Once signed, the Deed of Gift transfers ownership to the Museum and completes the donation. All donations are unconditional and unrestricted gifts to the Museum.

TONGASS HISTORICAL MUSEUM & TOTEM HERITAGE CENTER ARE OPEN FOR REQUESTS

Research Resources

The Tongass Historical Museum and Totem Heritage Center are open to researchers by appointment.

Requests should be as specific as possible to help staff find information efficiently. Given the high volume of requests, please note there may be a service fee for any research requests that take more than one hour.

To request research, please:

1) Complete the Ketchikan Museums Research Request Form.

Submit one request at a time. Do not send another research request before receiving a reply. Genealogical requests should contain the full name of the individual whose record is requested. Please include the exact date of the event if known. For all other requests, please indicate as narrow a period as possible. Historical research requests should be clearly written with a specific question. Photo orders should include topic, date of the event if known, and intended purpose.

2) Museum Department staff will review the request. Requests are processed in the order they are received; most requests can be answered within two to four weeks.

3) You will receive an e-mail with information regarding fees and how to pay them. Prepayment of any research fees specified is required. Research fees are nonrefundable and do not guarantee that relevant information will be found.

TAP INTO THE MANY ONLINE RESEARCH OPTIONS

Online Resources

We invite you to explore the following on-line resources to help with your research needs:

Alaska Digital Archives

Alaska Historical Society

Over a million documents have been scanned by FamilySearch.org in partnership with the Alaska State Archives to make records available to the public for Alaskan genealogy research. This resource is available here: http://archives.alaska.gov/for_researchers/coll_digital.html