Museum

Save America's Treasures: Preserving the 1934-35 DOI-ACE Collections

Daniel Odess, James Whitney, Chris Houlette

In 1934 and 1935, the Department of the Interior – Alaska College Expedition under the direction of Otto Geist collected and subsequently cataloged over 33,000 artifacts from Kukulik, a deeply stratified midden site on Saint Lawrence Island. This extensive collection contains artifacts representing roughly 2000 years of Eskimo prehistory on St. Lawrence Island and continues to be a prominent resource in the process of understanding the prehistory of Alaska and the Bering Strait region. In the fall of 2005 funds were awarded to the UAMN archaeology department through the Save America’s Treasures program (IMLS Grant ST-05-0005-05) to stabilize and reorganize these collections. The aim of this three year project was first to address the state of the collections themselves and second to preserve and promote their research potential. Upon completion of the project the 1934-35 collections, including all relevant documentation that could be located, have been completely inventoried and rehoused to current, best practice, archival standards. These collections were among the first to populate the museum and as a result of this project they are in a better state than they have been in the 75 years since their arrival in Fairbanks . Additionally, new information relating to the history of the site and the collections themselves has been brought to light, thus promoting their research potential for the continuing study of Bering Strait prehistory.

Funding: Save America's Treasures

Project Staff:

Dan Odess, Archaeology Curator

James Whitney, Archaeology Collections Manager

Monica Shah, Contract Conservator

Chris Houlette, Senior Curatorial Assistant

Heidi Kristenson, Rehousing Specialist

Dawn Planas, Conservation Intern

Fawn Carter, Student Assistant

Drawer of artifacts from Kukulik re-housed to archival standards
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