The Alaska State Museums (a state educational agency comprised of the Alaska State Museum and the Sheldon Jackson Museum) identify, collect, preserve and exhibit Alaska's material and natural history and provide public access to services and collections of the Museums. The Alaska State Museums interpret and disseminate knowledge of the history of the state, its people, and its resources, and support others in these efforts. The Museums also assist and advise in the growth, development, and excellence of other museums within Alaska.
The Alaska State Museum was established on June 6, 1900, when an Act of Congress created the Historical Library and Museum for the District of Alaska. The purpose of the Museum was to collect, preserve and exhibit objects from the territory. Although the collection of artifacts and volumes grew rapidly, a permanent place to house and display materials was not found for 20 years. Initially, the collection was originally stored wherever space could be found, with no provision made for public access. In 1920, the collection of the Alaska Historical Museum was made available to the public in the Arctic Brotherhood Building in Juneau. In 1923, the Territory assumed responsibility for Museum operations and the Museum continued to acquire and display important historical objects, and also developed research, tour guide programs, and educational activities. By the mid-1940s, the collection had outgrown its space and the Museum could no longer adequately store and display its materials.
Finally, in 1967, in honor of the centennial of the purchase of Alaska from Russia, the citizens of Juneau implemented a one percent sales tax to help fund the building of the current museum facility. Juneau subsequently turned over ownership and governance of the Museum to the State of Alaska. Since that time, the Museum's collections have grown from 5,500 to 27,000 objects. The Alaska State Museum was accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1975 and was re-accredited in 1987, and again in 2001.Sheldon Jackson Museum was founded in 1888 to house an exceptional collection of Alaska Native ethnographic material, most of which had been gathered by Presbyterian missionary and General Agent of Education for Alaska, the Rev. Dr. Sheldon Jackson. In 1985, the state purchased the Sheldon Jackson Museum and now administers its collection of 6,000 objects. In 1972, the Museum's unique building -- the first concrete structure built in Alaska -- was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Until it was sold to the state, the Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka operated this facility.
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