Alaskan Update

Greetings from Kodiak! Celia asked me to write a post about how I have contributed to ELE, so here we have it.

I’ve been involved from the first brainstorming session, when we tried to come up with an innovative way to be involved with American Enterprise. I wrote much of the white paper, which is meant to serve as a foundational document that describes the ELE ethos. Additionally, I wrote a good portion of the NEH planning grant this summer.

As ELE progresses, I will be testing the learning modules in order to develop an ELE exhibit for the Baranov Museum. For the NEH grant, I said that the business that the museum will highlight will be the Alaska Commercial Company. This is still a possibility, although there are many others. I am currently developing a temporary exhibit on the history of whaling in Kodiak, so it is possible to use ELE to develop this topic into an exhibit. But with both of these potential subjects I am confronted with the most basic ELE questions: What constitutes a local business? Would an industry work for the sake of ELE?

In the NEH grant, we focused on positioning the Baranov Museum as more or less the ultimate testing site, since I have not developed an online exhibit before, I have very little html or web design experience, and Kodiak is seriously isolated. There is no possibility of travelling to the state archives to do research, as it is a $500-$800 plane ticket.  Although Kodiak is an extreme example, as you create learning modules I encourage you to consider what challenges other small history museums may encounter as they try to create an exhibit with limited resources.

I am embarking on two long-term projects- a complete inventory and drafting a museum-wide interpretive plan, and as I do both of these I will have ELE on my mind. Local business history seems to have been neglected up until now, with many of the associated objects not seen as valuable enough by past curators to keep. I am changing this and have spoken with current local business owners about donating objects to the museum. I have a meeting with the brewer in a few weeks 🙂

That’s all for now! Happy Holidays!

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