For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Carpenter (907) 929-9227

Anchorage, AK – In 2003, Alaska’s Rasmuson Foundation launched its Art Acquisition Fund to provide grants to museums that collect current work by Alaska artists. In its first ten years, the fund distributed nearly $2 million and helped 33 museums purchase more than 1,000 works by 436 artists.

“Living Alaska: A Decade of Collecting Contemporary Art for Alaska Museums” opens Nov. 6 at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center and presents a retrospective of these works. This exhibition of art from museum collections around Alaska hints at the breadth and depth of the contemporary art being collected in Alaska museums.

Thematically, the exhibition focuses on the natural environment, Alaska Native experience and life in 21st century Alaska. Artwork explores Alaska’s landscapes, animals, materials, and the issues that surround them. Another group of pieces reflects the perpetuation of Alaska Native traditions. Artists examine, reinterpret and celebrate cultural practices, fusing traditional and new media to express their 21st century identities. A third group of works documents the contemporary Alaska experience, using visual art to study subjects like politics, employment, and modern material culture.

The result is an exhibition with a broad, contemporary, Alaska feel. Portraits of glaciers and rubber boots, items made with fish skin, a ceramic mask and a moose hide cell phone case highlight the great natural and cultural diversity of Alaska and artists’ efforts to tell the story of this place.

“Artists help us examine the human condition which is demonstrated through creative expression in the form of visual and performing arts, cultural traditions, literary arts, and media. Artists help interpret complex phenomena, or simply convey the great beauty that surrounds us in our natural world,” said Diane Kaplan, President and CEO of Rasmuson Foundation. “We hope the Art Acquisition Fund has made a difference for artists and museums in the state, and that we are further along in creating an important and invaluable permanent collection of contemporary artwork for Alaskans.”

“It is a privilege for museums to be able to collect the work of living artists and the work of artists who have made a lasting impact upon our perceptions of place and of art,” said Julie Decker, Director and CEO of the Anchorage Museum. “Rasmuson Foundation’s support of living artists and of museum acquisitions to be able to highlight and preserve these legacies has made an enormous impact upon the state’s arts community and ensures that museums can sustain, grow and strengthen their collections, through which there is mutual benefit to museums, artists and the public.”

“Living Alaska: A Decade of Collecting Contemporary Art for Alaska Museums” is on view Nov. 6, 2015 through Feb. 7, 2016, at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center.

This traveling exhibition, curated by Sven Haakanson Jr., includes 25 works from 12 Alaska museums. The exhibition at the Anchorage Museum also includes 48 additional works from the Anchorage Museum’s contemporary art collection.

Following its debut at the Anchorage Museum, the 25 pieces of the retrospective will travel to museums around Alaska and be supplemented with their own Art Acquisition Fund-sponsored works. Additional locations are Pratt Museum (Homer), Alaska State Library, Archives, and Museum (Juneau), University of Alaska Museum of the North (Fairbanks), Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository (Kodiak) and Museum of the Aleutians (Unalaska).


The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center is the largest museum in Alaska and one of the top 10 most visited attractions in the state. The museum’s mission is to connect people, expand perspectives and encourage global dialogue about the North and its distinct environment. Learn more at

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