Pratt Museum re-opens after renovation project

May 24, 2019

Pratt Museum.
Credit Aaron Bolton, KBBI News

The Pratt Museum re-opened last week after a massive renovation project, which began last fall. Besides the now modern looking entrance, visitors will find more exhibit space inside and more accessibility between galleries. 

When you walk through the front doors of the Pratt, you will notice the new carpeting and the new modern design with open wire railings. Exhibits Curator Scott Bartlett said visitors should also notice the additional space.

The newly renovated entrance to the Pratt Museum.

“Our special exhibit, which has actually been open for the last couple of weeks, is the all Alaska Biennial, which is on loan from the Anchorage Museum at Rasmussen Center,” he said. “It’s a really gorgeous exhibit, and it takes advantage of this expanded floor space. There’s more floor space in our special exhibits gallery then we’ve ever had before.”

The layout of the Pratt’s three main galleries has also changed slightly. Just to the right of the Special Exhibit space is the Permanent Gallery, where many of the exhibits are the same, but there is one large addition.

“We’ve added a community gallery in the front, which we envision as not just a gallery space, but also there’s a kids activity space for educational activities,” Bartlett said. “There’s also a sitting space and we hope to have more conversation-based projects and events in here where people can really discuss things that are elsewhere in the museum and elsewhere in the community.”

The Marine Gallery also received additional space after the remodel, and Bartlett said the space will allow more of the museums roughly 24,000 art pieces, artifacts and historical items to be put on display. New display cases have also been designed to allow for museum staff to easily swap out items.

“We have a lot of birds,” Bartlett laughed. “We can’t put them all out, but we definitely have the ease of being able to swap them out and we have plans to do that over time.”

The bottom floor of the Pratt is still in transition. It may feature some exhibits in the future, but will likely become a classroom space for students and children visiting the museum.  Visitors will also be able to see into the new expanded collections room where Savanna Bradley, the museum’s collections manager, maintains the Pratt’s collections.

“The cultural and natural history now I guess, but cultural collections used to be from this pillar, you see this pillar, cultural collections was just in this space going back to that corner,” Bradley said, referring to about a quarter of the new collections space. “If you think about it, this space has more than doubled. And we have the majority of the artifacts that aren’t on display are in this room.”

All of the Pratt’s items were previously stored in collection closets, and Bradley could only maintain and work on items from the collection on the floor during downtime. Now, she has a worktable in plain view the collection room’s windows where guests can watch her work.

The Pratt Museum will hold its Grand Re-opening event this Saturday.