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Longtime museum exhibit designer to retire

Submitted by Kerynn Fisher
Phone: 907-474-6941


Photo caption below.
Photo by Barry McWayne
Museum exhibits director Wanda Chin will retire at the end of the month after more than 30 years at the museum.
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After 30 years at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, exhibit designer Wanda Chin plans to retire at the end of October.

"Few have dedicated as many years to this museum as Wanda Chin," says museum director Carol Diebel. "I have been so impressed by her philosophical approach to exhibitions and her deeply embedded commitment to cross-cultural collaborations, innovative design and inspiring the diversity of our museum visitors. She will leave a lasting impact on this museum."

Chin's relationship with the University of Alaska Museum of the North began in 1978 when, as a consultant, she helped design and develop the exhibits in the museum's new building. She returned to Fairbanks in February 1979 to join the museum staff full time. More recently, Chin was instrumental in the design and installation of the Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery, the centerpiece of the museum's new wing and a gallery that has been called "a model for 21st century art and anthropological museums." Over the course of her museum career, she designed more than 30 special exhibits, bringing in artists, scientists and other community collaborators to develop exhibit themes and content. These community partnerships led to exhibits on a wide range of subjects, including the internment of Aleuts and Alaska's Japanese Americans during World War II, the women of the gold rush, the African-American experience building the Alaska Highway and the art of Denali National Park and Preserve, which is featured in the museum's current special exhibit.

Her efforts extended far beyond the museum's walls, working with museums across the state to expand opportunities for collaboration, training and leadership and serving as an advisor to projects such as the People of Whaling exhibit at the Inupiat Heritage Center in Barrow. She was also awarded several public art commissions; her work can be seen at the Tok Visitor Center, the Rabinowitz Courthouse in Fairbanks and the Asian Alaskan Cultural Center and Northwood School in Anchorage.

Chin was recently selected to receive the 2009 Governor's Award for the Arts in the arts advocacy category. The award recognizes her longtime commitment to the arts and to museums in Alaska. The Governor's Awards for the Arts and Humanities are presented in seven categories. Governor Parnell will present the awards in Anchorage tonight. Later this month, Chin and her husband Terry Dickey will be joint recipients of the Western Museum's Association's Directors Chair Award for their contributions to the museum profession. Dickey retired in 2007 after 31 years at the museum.

A retirement celebration is planned for Tuesday, Nov. 3 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the museum. Community members who worked with Chin over the course of her museum career are invited to attend. The event will be a potluck dinner and guests are asked to bring a dish or beverage to share. For more information on the retirement celebration or to RSVP for the event, please call 907-474-6939.

CONTACT: Kerynn Fisher, University of Alaska Museum of the North communications coordinator, at 907-474-6941 or 907-378-2559.