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.


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.


Collection Stewardship

  • The Ketchikan Museums own, exhibit, and use collections that are appropriate to our mission.

  • The Ketchikan Museums legally, ethically and effectively manage, document, care for the collections.

  • The Ketchikan Museums' collection-based research is conducted according to appropriate scholarly standards.

  • The Ketchikan Museums strategically plan for the use and development of collections.

  • Guided by our mission, the Ketchikan Museums provide public access to its collections while ensuring their preservation.

  • The Ketchikan Museums strive to meet the American Alliance of Museums Core Standards.

  • The Ketchikan Museums care for the City of Ketchikan's collection and the Tongass Historical Society's collection.

Museum staff examine a new donation of political buttons.

Explore highlights from the City of Ketchikan and the Tongass Historical Society’s photograph, archival, and object collections.


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 large objects and artwork, expanded the security system, purchased shelving and digitized unstable media wth this grant support. Collections care is a public trust responsibility and we follow museum best practices to ensure the health of the collection in perpetuity.

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


Donating to the Collection

Ketchikan Museums relies on the generosity of donors to grow the collection and amplify the appreciation for Ketchikan’s history. We are most interested in items that represent Ketchikan and surrounding areas, like Pennock and Gravina Islands, Metlakatla, communities on Prince of Wales Island, Hyder, Loring, and Meyers Chuck. As a general history museum, we collect both historic and contemporary items, analog and digital formats, and numerous topic areas. We are looking to grow the social history of the collection to be more inclusive of women’s history, economic and cultural diversity, LGBTQ issues, and other contemporary topics. We are always looking for things with a compelling story.

If you are interested in making a donation, we invite you to complete a Donor Questionnaire providing us with information about you and the items you wish to donate. The more information you can tell us about an object’s story, the better. To make an offer, please contact the Senior Curator of Collections or call (907) 228-5708.

When a donation is received, the donor is asked to complete a Temporary Custody Receipt. This form gives Ketchikan Museums permission to consider the gift for the collection. The Acquisition Review Committee meets monthly to consider new donation offers. We evaluate offers based on their connection to our mission, whether there is documentation and history of it, whether it is already represented in the collection, and its condition. Other criteria specific to each donation may also be considered. If we decide to add the offer to the collection, we will send you a Deed of Gift that legally transfers the ownership from you to Ketchikan Museums. All donations are unconditional and unrestricted gifts. We are unable to accept donations with restrictions on exhibit or long-term loans.


Research Resources

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

Requests for research or photo orders 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 or make a photo order, please:

1) Complete the Research Request Form.

Submit one request at a time. Do not send another request before receiving a reply. The more context you can tell us about your inquiry, the better. Genealogical requests should contain the full name of the individual whose record is requested and any relevant information you may know about them, like birth and death dates, job history, where they may have lived, etc. 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 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 be contacted with information regarding fees and how to pay them. Photo orders will be initiated upon receipt of written permission for use, payment, and a signed Photo Reproduction invoice. Research fees are assessed upon the completion of the research. All fees are nonrefundable and do not guarantee that relevant information will be found.