Members and Friends,
Thank you for welcoming me to the great state of Alaska and the beautiful city of Anchorage! I am extremely honored to be your next director of the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center and the chief executive officer of the Anchorage Museum Association.
I arrive from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian where I was an associate director. Located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the museum is the largest of its kind in the world representing the living indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. It is also one of the most visited museums in the world with an average annual attendance of over 2.5 million visitors. One of my fondest memories and co-achievements was the museum’s opening day celebration on Sept. 21, 2004, when more than 100,000 people, including Native Americans and Alaska Natives from nearly 600 tribes and villages, gathered in the nation’s capital to share in that historic moment. I will always cherish my nine years at the National Museum of the American, the many friends and acquaintances I have made and the colleagues I leave behind.
I bring with me to the Anchorage Museum nearly 20 years of museum related experience at a very exciting time in the museum’s history. As many of you are aware, the Anchorage Museum is in the midst of a $100 million expansion project that will double its exhibition capacity, expand its library and archives, and upgrade the café and museum shop. The new wing will also feature the Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center, showcasing more than 600 ethnographic items associated with Alaska’s first peoples loaned from the collections of the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of the American Indian. The Imaginarium, Anchorage’s hands-on children’s science and learning center, will be integrated into the existing museum structure. All of this is possible through the generous support from the Rasmuson family; government, corporate, and private organizations; and you, our loyal museum patrons.
The Anchorage Museum is already one of Alaska’s key destinations, attracting more than 180,000 visitors annually to experience first-class exhibitions and programming. The growth and success of the Anchorage Museum over the past several decades can be directly attributed to retiring Director Patricia B. Wolf and the incredible staff she has assembled. Pat is not only a professional colleague, but also a friend and mentor. I am most fortunate and privileged to have the opportunity to build upon the foundation Pat has established and the accomplishments she has achieved. She is committed to a seamless transition, and I take comfort in knowing Pat is never far away to provide advice and support.
The Anchorage Museum is entering a new and exciting era. It is an emerging organization that is poised to become one of the great cultural institutions in the circumpolar region, if not the world. Together, we will bring the best of what the world has to offer to Anchorage and the best of what Alaska has to offer to the rest of the world. I look forward to meeting you in the weeks and months to come and to your continued support of Alaska’s museum, the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center.
James Pepper Henry
Director and CEO
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center