August 31, 2015
The museum received an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts this month, presenting us with an exciting opportunity to work further with the community of Anchorage, indigenous leaders, the creative sector, and our city’s many and diverse neighborhoods. The grant program funds creative placemaking projects that strategically link communities and local governments with artists, designers, and arts organizations to improve quality of life, create a sense of place, and revitalize local economies.
Creative placemaking is the term of the moment, but I think it’s something we have worked on for a long time — to build our own narrative for this young city that evolves from a frontier narrative to one that also recognizes Anchorage as an international Northern city. We can change the perspective from “disconnected from the United States” to a pivotal place at the edge of the Arctic. It is our place in the world that makes us distinct.
We can tell our own story to empower the voices of the people here, highlight and respect indigenous knowledge, focus on adaptation, celebrate innovation, and create a community that is vibrant in its people, in its aesthetic and in its narrative for the future.
We can explore the histories that have been left out of textbooks and work to understand our relevance in this place and in this time. The museum’s most important role may be that it can bring many voices together for a conversation.
This is Our Town. It is the place we share. It is the place that holds our stories, our perspectives, and our hopes for the future. It is both fragile and powerful up here — with an incredible view of both the past and what lies ahead.