Museum of the Aleutians
Backstory and Context
Unalaska is the largest city in the Aleutian Islands. The Aleut, or Unangas (Russian: Унаӈан), people have lived on Unalaska Island for about 9,000 years. They named it "Ounalashka," meaning "near the peninsula." Russian fur traders first arrived in 1759. For almost 200 years, the population mostly consisted of Aleutians, Russians, and their descendants. Starting in World War II, there was an influx of people from the Lower 48.
Since 1999, the Museum of the Aleutians has acted as a cultural history institution for the Aleutian Islands and the community of Unalaska. It was renovated in 2013. Its mission is to collect, preserve, and research the cultural history and prehistory of the Aleutian Islands region. Through actively growing Unangan, Russian-American, World War II, and local art collections, the museum provides many permanent and changing exhibits, as well as a home to researchers, visitors, and community members. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children under 12. Admission is $2 for active military. Admission is free for children under 3, veterans, and for local students with a valid student ID.
The museum galleries include dioramas, video displays, and other interactive elements. The exhibits cover the early history of the Aleutian peoples, Russian colonization, World War II and the present day. The designer of the one of the exhibits, Alan Ransenberg said this after the renovations: “The story is the story of the Unangan or the Aleuts — about how they lived prior to contact with Russia, with the Russians, and they lived in a very expansive place, lots of horizon because of the water, and then they slowly got constricted. But in the end, it opens up into the collection room, that has a lot to do with that the Aleuts are still here, even after all of this."
Museum of the Aleutians, Accessed July 27th 2020. https://www.aleutians.org/.
Ropeik, Annie. At Reopened Museum of the Aleutians, A Focus On Storytelling, Alaska Public Media. December 17th 2013. Accessed July 27th 2020. http://www.alaskapublic.org/2013/12/17/at-reopened-museum-of-the-aleutians-a-focus-on-storytelling/.
Battle of the Aleutian Islands, History.com. Accessed July 27th 2020. http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/battle-of-the-aleutian-islands.
History of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, Accessed July 27th 2020. https://web.archive.org/web/20090930132651/http://www.unalaska.info/history.htm/.