Sunday Museum Review Part 8
Corrington’s Museum of Alaskan History
Corrington’s Museum of Alaskan History is in this building. If you like history carved on animal parts, you are in business.
We started our journey to review every Skagway museum more than two months ago. One thing is certain, Skagway loves museums. Today’s museum is privately owned, making it quite unique. It is located on 5th Avenue and Broadway Street in a retail gift store called Corrington’s Alaskan Ivory. Admission is free and the museum is suitable for all ages. This museum is also unique because it’s not really about the Klondike Gold Rush. So, what is it all about? Let’s find out.
Corrington’s Museum of Alaskan History is full of priceless stuff
Many of Skagway’s museums are full of junk that people left behind during the Gold Rush. Back then, if you owned a shovel and were tired of lugging it around, you just chucked it into the woods. A century later, someone finds it and, BOOM, into the museum it goes. While it’s old and “historic” it’s still just a rusty old shovel. Big whoop. However, there is a lot of stuff in Corrington’s Museum of Alaskan History that’s worth a lot of coin.
History, ivory, and more
Corrington’s Museum of Alaskan History is laid out in a historical timeline. It starts during prehistoric days and advances into the modern day. While you can read about all of this history in a book, the museum tells the story via intricately detailed scrimshawed walrus tusks. Just one of these tusks is worth more than my house.
Each tusk tells a piece of the story. One is about Alaska’s native peoples. Another is about World War II. There are tusks featuring stories about the Iditarod sled dog race and reindeer herds. That’s a whole lot of tusk. You can take your time in the museum and get a close look at all of the tusks. Scrimshaw is a lost art because the sale of ivory is heavily restricted nowadays. Don’t worry because you can’t afford it anyway.
There are some other cool items in the museum including a giant mastodon tusk and trade bead display. The museum also features the world’s largest baleen basket. What the heck is a baleen basket, you ask? I can tell you all about it.
Baleen basket weaving is an art
Alaska’s native people’s have been hand-crafting baleen baskets for a very long time. Baleen is that black stuff in a whale’s mouth that it uses to filter out all of your plastic bottles and bags while it eats tiny shrimp called krill. Indigenous people use that stuff to weave intricate baskets. It takes a very long time to make one.
When you see the world’s largest baleen basket, you’re going to think, “That’s not very big.” This is because you don’t know what you’re talking about. Even small baskets are extremely difficult to make. Weaving one takes an incredible amount of skill and patience. You can buy one of these baskets if you’re rich. The one in the museum is worth more than Oprah’s house. It’s priceless, which means it’s worth so much money that nobody can afford it. You can go see it for free, which is pretty amazing.
When you get out of the Corrington’s Museum of Alaskan History, you are in the gift shop because the owner is smart. There are many authentic Alaskan-made items in this museum, so it’s a good place to shop if you have integrity.
We hope you enjoyed this week’s Skagway museum review. I don’t even know if there are any other museums to review because I lost track about 3 weeks ago.