Case for Space: museum needs more room
Backers form committee to explore options to consolidate and expand
Valdez Star photo
Patricia Relay, executive director for the Valdez Museum, shows how the building's tight quarters equates to behind-the-scenes work is often performed in the display gallery.
The Valdez Museum and Historical Archive says it needs more room.
To look at options, the museum has created a committee to take a realistic look at the institution's needs while it operates out of two different locations in the city.
"We just don't have any space," the museum's executive director Patty Relay said, noting that public outreach classes during summer months are held in a tent on the front lawn of main museum on Egan Dr.
"We increased our general admissions by about 30 percent last year," she said, and requests for programs for students are difficult to keep up with under current space constraints.
Then there is the annex near the ferry terminal which Relay refers to as the "big ugly warehouse," that city officials hope to tear down in the near future. It houses the scaled-model of Old Town as it was before the 1964 earthquake.
"All of our collections are stored over there too," she said – about 20,000 artifacts.
Valdez Star file photo
The Valdez Museum often features unique or traveling exhibits, like this 2014 show featuring disaster-inspired art.
Hopes were riding high when the Port Valdez offered to donate land for a new facility on Meals Hill. That option is not totally off the table, but difficult to develop according to Relay and offers of a different location need to be addressed soon.
Relay is looking for public input to help guide the committee, which held its first meeting last week. She said anyone who would like to give input or join the committee should contact the museum in person or by phone. The group is hoping to hire a consulting firm to guide the process and help the committee – and the community – develop the best building in the optimum location.
"It's really important for the museum and the city to get community buy in," she said, not just board members but everybody.