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Museum to celebrate expansion Saturday

Submitted by Kerynn Fisher
Phone: (907) 474-6941


museum pic The University of Alaska Museum of the North will celebrate the opening of its new wing with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and community celebration on Saturday, September 10.

The festivities will begin at 10 AM with a special preview for museum members. During the member preview, Museum Advisory Council Chair Mike Cook will unveil a permanent donor plaque acknowledging supporters donating $5,000 or more to the museum's expansion project.

The formal ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin at noon. Scheduled speakers include museum director Aldona Jonaitis, UA President Mark Hamilton, UA Board of Regents Chair Brian Rogers, UAF Chancellor Steve Jones, architect Joan Soranno, Athabascan Elder Poldine Carlo and expansion campaign chair Joseph E. Usibelli and vice chair Richard Wien.

Keeping with the museum's education mission and tradition of programs for local schoolchildren, the ribbon for the ceremony will be comprised of nearly 200 drawings of the museum made by children at the June 2005 TOTE Family Fun Fest. The images have been laminated and strung together to create a 200 foot ribbon. After the ceremony, the images will be returned to the young artists as a memento of the day's events.

Immediately following the ribbon cutting ceremony, at approximately 12:30 p.m., the UAF Steel Drum Band will do a drum roll as university and museum officials open the doors to the new wing. For the rest of the day, the museum will offer free admission to acknowledge the Fairbanks community's support of the expansion project throughout more than 10 years of fundraising and three years of construction.

During the community celebration, museum staff will be on-hand to talk about the newly installed exhibits, upcoming programs and the future Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery, the centerpiece of the new wing. Representatives from the museum's GDM/HGA architectural team will be on-hand. Anchorage architects Jim Blair and Scott Robbins, from Alaska-based GDM, will have a model of the insulation system used ion the museum and will be available for questions about the building's engineering and unique architecture. Design architect Joan Soranno, from Hammel, Green & Abrahamson, also be on-hand, flying in from Minneapolis for the event.

Also during the community celebration, Athabascan artist Delores Sloan will demonstrate beadwork until 4 p.m., wearing traditional regalia in honor of the event. The Pavva Inupiaq dancers will perform from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., and the Tanana Highlanders will perform from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Though the museum opened the doors to its new wing in mid-August, there are several areas that will open to the public on September 10. These include the Alaska Classics Gallery, the Living Room, the Art Bridge and the Museum Café. A detailed description of these areas follows.

The museum broke ground in June 2002 for its expansion, a $42 million project funded through a combination of public and private sources. Renovations to museum's original building are expected to continue through the end of the year. The Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery and Arnold Espe Auditorium, both in the museum's new wing, are expected to open in spring 2006, with the expanded museum fully operational for the summer 2006 visitor season.

The ribbon cutting ceremony and community celebration mark the kickoff for a year-long celebration of the expanded museum. Additional events will be held through spring 2006 to highlight different aspects of the expansion project. Information on these events is available on the museum's website at http://www.uaf.edu/museum.

Contact: Kerynn Fisher, Communications Coordinator, University of Alaska Museum of the North, at 907.474.6941 or 907.378.2559.

University of Alaska Museum of the North Expansion New Areas Opening in September

Alaska Classics Gallery On the museum's main level, we'll have an installation from our fine arts collection featuring as many paintings as we can fit on the walls by beloved Alaska artists like Sydney Laurence, Ted Lambert, Eustace Ziegler and others. These are the "historic" landscape paintings and portraits. The community's desire to have these works on display was a driving force in the expansion project. The gallery will also give visitors and students a chance to see how the artists' style developed over the years.

Natural Wonders Gallery In the corridor between the new lobby and the Gallery of Alaska, we'll have two new exhibitions:
--An installation of photographs by Michio Hoshino, the late Japanese photographer who made his home in Fairbanks. The photographs are landscape and wildlife portraits, and make a great metaphorical link between the art focus of the exhibits in the new wing and the natural history exhibits in the original Gallery of Alaska.
--The Expansion Vision Realized - with an overview of the project, photos of the construction progress and a list of volunteers and community advocates who helped with the project.

Floating Staircase and Art Bridge September 10 will be the first time visitors can walk up the stairs and enjoy the views from the upper-level bridge

Museum Café On the main level, directly across from the Museum Store and to the left of the admissions desk, we'll have a small cafe with espresso drinks and snacks to give visitors a place to relax and refuel. We plan to install a wireless network in this area.

Living Room Located in the upper level above the Museum Café, this sitting area will feature coffee tables with art books and some works from our collections. It's our answer to a common problem for museums known as "museum fatigue." This area will give visitors a place to relax and absorb their gallery experience while enjoying the architecture in the new wing.

Sunday, September 18 - Sunday, November 13
Light Motifs: American Impressionist Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art The 27 canvases in this inaugural exhibit for the museum's new Special Exhibit Gallery include works by Mary Cassatt, Childe Hassam and John Singer Sargent.