History & Art With The Palmer Museum

Please join the Palmer Museum in its efforts to develop and create public access to the visual history of Palmer.

For the next two years, the Palmer Museum is committed towards expanding its historical photography collections and providing public access to it.

Through the PMHA Photography Collections Management Project, the Palmer Museum will undergo three phases that will culminate in a Palmer community photography bank that will include the historical photographs of Palmer from various organizations and private collectors throughout the region.

A significant portion of the collections of the Palmer Museum of History and Art, PMHA, includes historical photograph prints, 35mm slides and negatives amounting to over 2,200 images with only 110 images that have been accessioned.

The PMHA receives numerous research and temporary usage requests of its photographs throughout the year but are unable to accommodate them due to majority of the photographs not being organized into any accessible format (for public use). Furthermore, there are multiple organizations and private collectors within the Palmer community who maintain similar historical photograph collections but do not have the resources to make them available to the public. To address these problems, the museum has developed the PMHA Photography Collections Management Project that will focus on three areas of need: image identification, storage and management, and accessibility.

Several of the photographs in the museum’s collection contain images of locations, people and/or events that are unidentifiable by museum staff. The image identification phase of the project will include a three night open-house at the Palmer Train Depot on February 17th, 18th and 21st from 1:00 to 9:00PM, where a portion of the museum’s collection will be on display for the public to view and identify. Museum staff and volunteers will assist with the identification process. As part of this event, the museum will be accepting new donations of photographs (in return, donors will receive digital copies of their photographs on a CD so that they may retain them to make prints, if they should so desire them, in the future). Desirable photograph donations will be pre-1960s photographs depicting early life in Palmer such as events (State Fair, parades, plays, fires), homesteads, the Ahtna community, mines (gold and coal), schools, old buildings and vehicles, and construction (bridges, roads, homes).

The museum will also have more information available about the project, museum stewardship (including take away information about the preservation of photography), and information on the museum exhibits, programs and events scheduled for the 2016 season.

Throughout the event, the museum will be offering door prizes, there will be a slide show of some of the museum’s current photography collection as well as an on-going round-table for attendees to have an opportunity to discuss Palmer history and make connections/ seek advice for their own research. To assist with this event, will have special guests: Sara Piasecki, the Archivist from the Anchorage Museum, who will be available to speak with at our Stewardship table each day and Erik Hirschmann, the Faculty Coordinator for the Social Sciences and History Departments at Mat-Su College, who will be a round-table facilitator on the 18th and 21st.

The second phase of the project, storage and management, will include the purchase of a photo scanner, a new external hard drive and archival supplies that will be used to transfer the images into the museum’s collections software (and eventually onto the digital photo bank web-site) and into permanent archival storage sleeves and boxes for proper long term storage based on museum standards.

The final phase, accessibility, will include the temporary hire of a freelance graphic and web designer who will assist the museum in establishing an online Palmer Photo Bank based on the IMLS funded Johnson County jocohistory.org project. The web-site will include images contributed by the Palmer Museum’s photography collection, the Palmer Public Library, St. Michael’s Church in Palmer and the United Protestant Church, with the hope that additional organizations and collectors will follow. The web-site will allow for easy access and search capabilities while also giving each donor organization/collector the ability to provide public access based on their own parameters (i.e. how to obtain copies for private use).

By the end of the project, it is the museum’s hope that both, members of the Palmer community and visitors/Palmer enthusiasts, will have one reliable primary source to turn to for Palmer regional visual history that can continue to grow as the community grows while also being of the community.

The first and second phases of the project were made possible by a grant from the Collections Management Fund of Museums Alaska, with generous support from the Rasmuson Foundation as well as an in-kind donation from the City of Palmer. The Palmer Museum is still seeking funding to complete the third and final phase of the project.

In March, the museum will be shining the spotlight on the younger artists in our community in Beyond the Classroom, a high school juried art exhibit. This will be the second year that the museum will be hosting this exhibit. Beyond the Classroom is open to all high school students, grades 9-12 that are enrolled in a high school program (public, home school or alternative). Only one submission per students is allowed and art works can be comprised of any media, any size.

Applications are available on the museum web-site at www.palmermuseum.orgor forms can be picked up at the Museum located in downtown Palmer at 723 S. Valley Way. The Museum will be accepting applications until March 11th. Applications will be used to determine space requirements and other exhibit accommodations needed. Due to space limitations, the Museum will only guarantee acceptance of the first 25 applications and then open it up to additional entries with space permitting.

Art work will be on display at the Museum for the latter half of March and the entire month of April with a special artist reception to be held during the Palmer Art Walk on Saturday, April 9 from 2-6PM. As part of the exhibit, representatives from Mat-Su College Art Department, Valley Arts Alliance, Valley Fine Arts Association, Palmer Arts Council and the Palmer Museum will be reviewing all submissions. Artists will be given review sheets with comments and suggestions after the exhibit with a special participation gift provided by Blaine’s Art Supply in Anchorage.

Prizes will be given out to one outstanding work from each media: painting, drawing, sculpture/ceramics, photography and mixed media. One student will also be awarded a Best in Show based on a 50/50 score with 50% based on public popular vote taken at the Museum from March 14th – April 9th and 50% based on the jury panels review.

About PMHA:
The Palmer Museum of History and Art is a nonprofit museum that serves the community of Palmer in preserving and sharing the history and art of the Palmer region. The museum’s collections contain items that best depict region’s art history, exploration, settlement, agriculture, and trade, cultural and social development.

During the summer, May 1st through September 30th, the museum also serves a Palmer’s Visitor’s Center and is open seven days a week from 9:00AM to 6:00PM. The museum also operates during the winter months from October 1st through April 30th, Wednesday through Friday, 10:00AM to 5:00PM and second Saturdays of the month, 10:00AM to 6:00PM.