PERFECT WEATHER – Surfers assess the waves at Sandy Beach this morning. Waves were between 14- and 20-feet today. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Sitka Museum Gets $250,000 from Rasmuson


Sentinel Staff Writer

The Sitka History Museum has something to be thankful for this year, after it received a big grant award from the Rasmuson Foundation Thursday. 

Museum Executive Director Hal Spackman said the $250,000 award will go toward outfitting the new museum space in the renovated Centennial Hall.

“With this gift from Rasmuson we now know we’ll be able to construct the exhibits,” he said. “It was a great relief.”


Sitka Historical Society board members and staff of the Sitka History Museum meet in the new gallery space at Harrigan Centennial Hall this afternoon. The museum was recently notified that it received a $250,000 Rasmuson grant to help create exhibits. Pictured are, from left, Pat Alexander, Ernestine Massey, Sabra Jenkins, John Stein, Kathy Hope Erickson, Hal Spackman, Kristy Griffin and Barbara DeLong. (Sentinel Photo)

Centennial Hall was rebuilt with a wing for the museum, but the Sitka Historical Society was given the responsibility of furnishing it.

The contents of the museum as existed before the Centennial Hall renovation began are being held in storage. The new museum space remains empty as plans proceed for gallery exhibits on Tlingit, Russian and more recent eras of Sitka history. The new museum will also have storage for objects, office space and a research room. 

The project’s price tag is $680,000, Spackman said. 

“That’s a lot of money to raise,” he said. 

With the addition of the Rasmuson grant to the funds previously raised, the museum is roughly $100,000 short of its goal, Spackman said.

“We’re almost there,” he said. “Their donation is very generous.”

Roy Agloinga, Rasmuson program officer, said the museum received the award because it met two criteria: the project is ready to build and it’s going to provide a large benefit to the community and state. The foundation thinks the museum’s plan to build artifact storage space along with its galleries is a good idea, he said. 

“The ability to put the collection storage in a space that is safe is important for the historical society and objects,” he said. 

“We’re excited that we can make a difference,” said Rasmuson Communications Manager Courtney Brooke Smith.

Spackman said the grant award “is validation of the community support.”

The museum plans to make up the remaining funds with other grant awards and fundraisers. One upcoming benefit is a big New Year’s eve party the museum will co-host with the Sitka Fine Arts Camp.

“We’re going to continue to have our fundraisers that we’ve done and promote history,” Spackman said. 

“History can be fun, it can be exciting,” he said. “This town has a story to tell and we’re glad to tell it.”


The museum is slated to open next summer, just in time for the sesquicentennial celebration – the 150th anniversary of the transfer of Russian Alaska claims to the United States.

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August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:


On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

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– The Sitka Sentinel Staff


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Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 11-24-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 12:25 a.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Monday: 578

Total statewide – 27,669

Total (cumulative) deaths – 115

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 619

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

The City of Sitka posted the following update on COVID-19 cases in Sitka as of 5 p.m. Monday.

Active cases in Sitka – 29

Hospitalizations in Sitka – 3

Cumulative Sitka cases – 176 (155 resident; 21 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 147 cumulative

The local case data are from the City of Sitka website.




November 2000

Photo caption: A painting by the late Dr. Walt Massey hangs on the wall of the Pioneers Home dining room,. bringing smiles from home administrator Julie Smith and Massey’s son Brian and daughter-in-law Amy, the home’s dietary manager. The painting of early-day Sitka was done in 1971, the year Dr. Massey, an optometrist and artist, died. It originally hung in the Canoe Club and was given by the restaurant’s owner, Frank Richards, to local historian Joe Ashby, who gave it to the Pioneers Home.

November 1970

Photo  caption: Sitka High School band director James Hope receives a check for $2,000 from American Legion Post 13 Commander Carroll Kohler. The Legion had voted to contribute $1,000 for uniforms and the Auxiliary voted to match that amount. The check was presented at the Legion’s Veterans Day banquet.