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Museum Of The Aleutians Welcomes Visitors Once Again

Chrissy Roes

After having been closed to the public for over three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Unalaska's Museum of the Aleutians has begun its limited reopening.

Starting Tuesday—and in observation of certain regulations—patrons can once again visit the museum.

"We will let a few people in at a time—no more than three family groups or individuals who will practice social distancing, and they will have to wear masks," said Museum Director Ginny Hatfield. "We're going to screen people when they come in.  So it'll be a restricted opening, but it's an opening, and we're pretty excited."  

Hatfield said that anyone visiting the museum will get their temperature taken upon entering, and is also required to fill out a basic questionnaire, which calls for their name, contact information, if they or any household members are sick, and whether or not they have traveled to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor in the last 14 days.

While walk-ins are welcome, reservations are recommended, according to Hatfield. Patrons will be given one-hour time slots to explore the museum, and 15-minute cleanings will take place in between each hourly visit.

The museum gift shop is currently limited to one person or household at a time, and staff will be asking that visitors use gloves if handling any merchandise. Orders can still be placed online and curbside pickup and shipping are available.

According to Hatfield, the pandemic has posed a challenge for the museum, financially and emotionally. But they are working on expanding their digital presence and outreach with new Education and Outreach Manager Thomas McLenigan.

"It's been an interesting few months, very quiet. We've been trying to learn about going virtual and working more with our social media than we have before," said Hatfield. "So we're getting into that realm where we can reach the public without the public having to come into the building physically. It's been an interesting new reality, and we're really happy to have Thomas with us to help guide us into the digital frontier." 

In combination with more digital outreach material on the horizon, the museum is planning a virtual community art show installation, which they are hoping to have up and running by the first Friday of August—if all goes according to plan.

In the meantime, Hatfield said staff is proceeding with caution and continuing to develop its digital collection as the museum begins to reopen.

"We don't even know where the end is yet," reflected Hatfield. "We'll have a limited reopening, but the way this virus is happening in other places like Texas—as we've been seeing—maybe we will have to shut down again. So we're cautious. We're pretty sure we lost the tourism income this year, and just hopeful for next." 

The museum is also teaming up with the Unalaska Public Library to develop a program called the MOTA Art Initiative. The program is aimed at assisting artists who were planning to contribute their work to the library expansion project, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their first project is a fundraising effort to purchase the art that the City of Unalaska had planned to buy and use for the library renovation.

To find out more about the MOTA Art Initiative or to get more information on the museum’s reopening, visit their website. Reservations can be made by emailing, or by calling 581-5150.


Hailing from Southwest Washington, Maggie moved to Unalaska in 2019. She's dabbled in independent print journalism in Oregon and completed her Master of Arts in English Studies at Western Washington University — where she also taught Rhetoric and Composition courses.
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