Whose stories get told in a museum?

Who gets to tell those stories?

Who has the control of those stories?

These questions do not have simple answers when it comes to museum exhibition practices. The Kodiak History Museum has a simple answer in the vehicle of our temporary exhibit program: KHM’s temporary exhibits are about Kodiak and created by and for all of Kodiak.

This flipping of the script, handing over curatorial control to the community, is part of KHM’s recent work to be more inclusive and accessible to the community we serve. By offering the museum’s platform and resources, the community partners who propose the exhibits have the opportunity to control their own curatorial narrative in telling their story and feeling heard by the broader community. Museum staff work to research their ideas, offer objects or archival documents from within the KHS collection, and assemble the vision of the community partners into each exhibit. The development of each exhibit begins with our community, and this spirit continues throughout the exhibit design process – KHM is the platform for and facilitator of our Kodiak community’s stories and ideas.

Exhibit: Making History, Day by Day: Kodiak, Our Stories, and the COVID-19 Pandemic (December 2021-November 2022)

Every temporary exhibit is complemented by a variety of programs chosen by our community partners and developed as a partnership between KHM and community program facilitators. These programs complement the material and topics presented in each temporary exhibit, and they are designed to engage the visitor on a deeper level than what is afforded by the exhibit format.

We recognize that the amount of time and effort required of community members is significant. KHM makes this exhibit process more equitable by providing an honorarium to our community partners and program facilitators.

A visitor looking at an example tribal ID card in the Fissions of Native Identity exhibit (November 2022-August 2023)

For more information about our temporary exhibit program and how to be involved, visit our website.