GOVERNOR WALKER SIGNS ORDER TO START NEW ONE
Gov. Bill Walker signed an administrative order on Saturday to create a task force to study the creation of a military museum in Alaska. Must Read Alaska reported on it on Sunday.
But no sooner was the ink dry on the internet, when readers informed us that there is already a military museum, and there has been one for many years. Our bad.
The Alaska Veterans Museum is located at 333 W. 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage. The modest storefront museum, run by volunteers and supported by donations, was a project of Veterans of Foreign Wars members who started laying the groundwork for it in 2001 to honor the rich military history in Alaska. It took them years to launch it fully, and they partner with several groups to put on events and displays around town.
Walker didn’t mention or pay tribute to the little museum during the signing of his administrative order to establish the task force that will recommend a large, world-class museum. It’s almost like he didn’t know about it.
ALASKA VETERANS MUSEUM
The Alaska Veterans Museum “is focused on honoring our nation’s veterans and insuring that because of the sacrifices they made to defend America’s freedom, ‘They Shall Not Be Forgotten.’ ”
“There was no place to hear the stories of Servicemen and Servicewomen, or learn of the military’s contributions to the growth of Alaska, or how Alaskans defended the United States. The idea for Alaska Veterans Museum was born,” according to the group’s web site.
Early founders began gathering historical artifacts; weapons, uniforms, photos, posters, models, dioramas, and oral histories.
AVM became a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation in 2002 and started enlisting community support. By 2008, the group had its first public exhibit in the Anchorage Museum: “Castner’s Cutthroats: Forgotten Heroes,” launched with a panel discussion that included the last three living Alaska Scouts, Lt Earl Acuff, Sgt Ed Walker, T5 (Corporal) Billy Buck, and author Jim Rearden. The group paid tribute to T5 (Corporal) Buck Delkettie who died just before the exhibit was open.
“Oral Histories from these fine men still play at the museum today. Nineteen months after our debut, our exhibit was finally taken down. When it was taken down, the Anchorage Museum’s Historian Marilyn Knapp said it was the most popular local exhibit the museum had ever had,” according to the web site.
Other exhibits followed: The Aleutian Tigers, (11th Fighter Squadron), displayed at the Alaska Aviation Museum, and work done assisting the 11thAir Force Warbirds exhibit and the USS Grunion exhibit, also at the Aviation Museum.
At the Native Heritage Center, the group had an exhibit on the Alaska Territorial Guard (ATG) and Major Marvin “Muktuk” Marston, with many of his items on loan, entrusted to us by the Anchorage Museum.
“We also had displays on the Aleutian Campaign: A Forgotten War at the Chugiak-Eagle River Library and at the Loussac Library.”
On April 17, 2011, the group opened a museum on 4th Ave. and has welcomed thousands of visitors. Must Read Alaska was unable to reach the museum’s director, Michael Haller, who has a day job with the federal government.
We’ll update this story when it becomes clear how the proposed museum will incorporate, displace, or replace the existing Alaska Veterans Museum, which is run on a shoestring.