Protecting the Museum’s Collections

The Pioneer Air Museum has recently completed a project to better protect the museum’s collections, supported by a grant from Museums Alaska, which is supported by the Rasmuson Foundation.

The museum’s home in the Gold Dome at Pioneer Park is a nearly ideal location. The park gets lots of traffic from visitors and local Fairbanks residents, the dome is a unique structure to house our collection, and the location is at the heart of the Interior Alaska aviation over the last century. 

But there are some challenges. The biggest one is that the roof leaks. The dome was constructed for the A67 celebration of Alaska’s centennial as a part of the United States. If you do the math, that is 55 years ago! Any structure that old is going to have some issues. Both the borough, which owns the building, and the museum continue to work on the problem, but in the meantime we need to protect our collection.

To maximize storage of our large collection in the limited space, the museum utilizes movable, open-storage shelving units to organize cataloged objects that are off-exhibit. While these shelving units fit the needs of the museum’s current storage needs (compact and moveable to avoid potential hazards), the shelves did not provide the necessary environmental protections or microclimate needed with the current building conditions. As the PAM continues to make progress cataloging and rehousing its collection, efforts to minimize the impact of potential building maintenance events are crucial. Waterproof shelving covers for the museum’s open storage shelves will provide an additional layer of environmental protection for the museum’s object storage in the case of such an event.

In 2019, the museum obtained grant funding for four custom shelving covers to protect its archival collections. To obtain covers for the remaining 11 shelving units, the museum turned to Museums Alaska and its Collections Management Fund. They graciously provided the funds, and the new covers are in place to protect our collection. We are deeply grateful for the support from Museums Alaska and the Rasmuson Foundation!


Shelving Covers in Place to Protect Archival Collections at the Museum (Credit: Rita Butteri)

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