Anchorage Museum expanded the inclusivity and accessibility of its archives through a pilot internship program this past summer

Research about women in Alaska, climate change, and environmental racism is more accessible and inclusive thanks to a new internship launched this past summer at the Anchorage Museum in partnership with Smithsonian Affiliations and the Emerson Collective.

Interns Isa Merritt, May Zhou, and Evan Teplensky, from three universities across the United States, worked together remotely to create searchable subject guides for materials in the Anchorage Museum’s art and material culture collection. They also interviewed members of Anchorage’s immigrant community for addition to the museum archives.

Using the museum’s database of historic Alaska photographs (soon to be at, the interns created subject guides around different topics: women in Alaska, climate change, and environmental racism. These guides help researchers and users by easing the burden of searching the over 800,000 photographs in the collection.

The interns also designed, conducted, and transcribed interviews, which model how the museum archives can include more stories of individuals from historically marginalized communities in Anchorage, especially those from cultures with strong oral traditions.

Museum staff and community members trained the interns via Zoom and offered them practical research and writing experiences in conservation, basic archiving, climate change, race and social justice, and decolonizing museum collections. All virtual gatherings began with land acknowledgments honoring the Indigenous peoples of the interns’ home regions and the Dena‘ina people on whose land the Anchorage Museum sits.

The interns’ work with the Anchorage Museum collection will be available for discovery and exploration worldwide through the Smithsonian Learning Lab, an interactive website for the Smithsonian’s digital collections and tools.

The Anchorage Museum is a Smithsonian Institution affiliate and hosts the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center and presents an exhibition of part of its Alaska Collection on the the museum’s second floor. The Emerson Collective is a for-profit corporation supporting systemic change in education, the environment and social justice.

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