Sheldon Jackson Museum
104 College Drive , Sitka, AK, USA
www.museums.state.ak.us/shel… - (907) 747-8981
Sheldon Jackson Museum Sitka Reviews
the Sheldon scene... Jun 24, 2012
How to start this review? The site is an impressive collection of artifacts from the original inhabitants of Alaska, but the founder possesses a dubious past. Sheldon Jackson was a Presbyterian missionary who was somewhat rabid about promulgating his beliefs after Alaska came under the fold of the United States. There can be no argument about Sheldon’s dedication to his faith, though his often heavy-handed efforts to assert his beliefs may have stretched the limits of Christian principles.
That aside, Sheldon established Alaska’s very first institute of higher learning (unsurprisingly named Sheldon Jackson College) in 1878 and erected the territory’s very first museum on that campus in 1887. Featuring his collection from rambling about the northern territory, the namesake museum quickly outgrew its original quarters and resulted in constructing Alaska’s first concrete building in 1897.
The very same building survives to the present and even if you disagree with Sheldon’s principles, it is a wonderful tribute and preservation. As opposed to the usual trampling of native cultures, the Sheldon Jackson Museum captures the essence and beauty of people who learned to adapt and survive in a brutal environment. .The breadth of the collection is astonishing (be sure to open the drawers ringing the interior circle of the museum – though nothing calls your attention to these repositories, they contain a wealth of informative artifacts). There are totems, kayaks and splendid examples of native clothing (incredibly designed to be water resistant and warm), all lending appreciation for the adaptive skills of these people.
Though I’m no fan of Sheldon, I do congratulate him for establishing this wonderful museum which captures the beauty of several remarkable and resilient cultures. Admission is only $5, $4 for senior citizens and no charge for those less than eighteen years of age. For you hardy souls out there, admission falls to $3 in the winter!
Part of the Alaska At Last travel blog
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