Areas of institutional emphasis are natural science and cultural collections in anthropology, history, art, earth sciences and biology of the Kachemak Bay region. The museum's research collections include over 24,000 objects plus a library and archives. The collections constitute a regionally distinctive resource for research, exhibition, and educational use. For more information, please contact our Collections Manager .
The Anthropology Collections consist of about 4,000 objects. Archaeological artifacts excavated from local sites represent well-documented research collections of our earliest known human inhabitants of Kachemak Bay, from Ocean Bay Culture 4500 years BP through Kachemak Tradition to prehistoric Dena'ina Athabaskans around 1400 AD. Ethnographic artifacts include basketry, dolls, fishing and hunting implements, watercraft, household tools, clothing and ornamental objects representing Dena'ina Athabaskan, Pacific Eskimo and Aleut cultures, the three major regional Native Alaskan coastal cultures. One of the rarest artifacts is a well-preserved, 1000-year-old Kachemak Tradition birch bark basket that miraculously survived in a tide-swept cliff. The museum is recognized by the Kenaitze Indian Tribe of Dena'ina Athabaskans as a regional repository for cultural materials, and cares for its repatriated counting cords and newly excavated archaeological materials from the Upper Russian River.
The History Collection of 4,500 objects features Russian and American influences represented by trapping, whaling, fishing, mining, fox farming and agricultural tools, religious memorabilia, and household items. The historic Harrington cabin is furnished with a homestead collection of hand-tooled equipment, catalog-ordered household goods, and handmade personal items encompassing the most complete time capsule of self-reliant homestead life in Homer from 1920-1960, along with the 1929 Nordby outhouse, the oldest two-seater in town. Other resources such as maps, nautical charts, surveys, correspondence, newspapers, photographs, oral history tapes, and films document regional homesteading and community development. Association with the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Society has yielded collaborative restorations of three recently acquired historic boats.
The Art Collection of 250 objects includes paintings, drawings, prints, textiles, jewelry, and sculptures by regional artists, such as a life-sized ceramic harbor seal and vibrant watercolors of salmon fishermen. A mission-based Art Acquisition Policy guides the community members on the Pratt’s Art Acquisition Committee in the thoughtful selection of artworks. Learn more about recent additions to our art collection.
The Earth Sciences Collections of 500 geological and paleontological specimens include a rare fossil imprint of a local perch, bison and woolly mammoth fossils, glacial erratics carried to Homer beaches, and a valuable collection of fossil mollusks representing the diverse, prolific life of our ancient seas. Volcanic ash, pumice, and lava bombs represent active regional volcanic activity.
The Biology Collections consist of 2,500 regional specimens or units. The marine life collection represents a baseline study of marine plants and animals (wet-preserved) and drift/beach materials (dry-preserved) of Kachemak Bay. Thirty mounts of marine and freshwater fish feature common species of Kachemak Bay. Over 250 mounts, study skins, skeletons, and nests of birds represent many of the 487 species documented in Alaska. A collection of 30 salvaged marine mammals, prepared largely as articulated skeletons, is the highlight of a representative collection of over 500 mammal study skins, hides, mounts, and skeletons. One particularly unusual specimen is the massive rib of an extinct Steller's Sea Cow from Bering Island. A herbarium of 1,200 specimens represents 347 species of plants from around the bay and remote, offshore islands.
The Photo Archives consist of approximately 6,500 historical images documenting community development and Kachemak Bay and approximately 6,000 images of the museum's institutional history and activities. In 1998, ninety-two-year-old Ted Palmer returned briefly to Homer to provide an extraordinary oral history and donate photographs of his homestead life from 1920-1927, the oldest known photographs of family life in this area.
The Quilt Collection includes 20 locally made quilts that can be integrated thematically with museum exhibits. Fifteen of these were created by community quilters as complementary projects to the museum’s annual fundraising raffle quilts. Those in the permanent collection draw on a variety of cultural and natural history themes, such as historic buildings, wildflowers, and the changing of the seasons. They exemplify the vital tradition of community that has been the foundation for the Pratt Museum.
The Archives of 275 cubic feet preserve community history, business records and noncurrent collections documentation. The constitution and By-Laws of the King's County Mining Company from 1898 generates much community interest. It is one of the oldest documents in our holdings.
What Will the Museum Be Collecting?
The Pratt Museum has developed a new Collections Plan with input from the community. Together, we have analyzed what objects we have and what we’re missing, articulated how these objects should serve the Museum's mission and the community’s needs, and created a philosophical framework and vision for collecting in the future. Click here to access the collection plan.