Pratt Museum Garners Excellence in the Museum Profession Award
At the Museums Alaska annual conference in Haines last month, the Pratt Museum was honored as the recipient of the association’s Excellence in the Museum Profession Award for the Gray Whale Project. This is the only exhibit or project award given by the association, and recognizes the Pratt once again as a leader among the state’s 80-plus museum institutions.
“More than just an exemplary exhibit, the Pratt Museum’s Encounters: Whales in Our Waters surpassed the level of public involvement and investment normally considered possible in a community museum exhibition,” said Museums Alaska President Angela Linn. The exhibit project started 14 years ago, in 1999, when museum volunteers collected the carcass of a juvenile gray whale found in Kachemak Bay. Its bones were cleaned by volunteers, catalogued by visiting students, conserved, studied, and finally, during the summer of 2012, articulated under the guidance of local bone expert, Lee Post. In January 2013, the large components (backbone, tail section, skull, flippers), were transported by more volunteers, who carried them into the special exhibits gallery where the whale was suspended—whole again after 13 years.
The only shortcoming to Encounters is that it was, in fact, too short. Although this exhibit lasted six months (longer than any recent exhibit at the Pratt) and caught the early summer visitors, many urged for it to stay in place indefinitely. Luckily, the gray whale’s role in community building is not done. In a couple of years, many of those volunteers are hoped to return to help move their 1773-pound whale once again. When the museum throws open the doors of a new building, the whale will be waiting, in a new permanent installation, to greet its many supporters.
Capital Project Updates
Since completion of schematic design last fall, the Board, capital campaign committee and staff are hard at work on fundraising and exhibit planning. The campaign is focusing on leadership gifts from individuals, foundations, and corporations. The public campaign is expected to begin next winter. Although a substantive amount of work remains, the campaign is right on track, receiving positive responses and pledges of support from key foundations and individuals.
We plan to resume the design process with the architects later this year, once the exhibit layout is completed this summer and major elements have been set in place. We do know the gray whale skeleton will be placed in a prominent location at the entryway to the new galleries. Exhibit design and fabrication will continue over the next two years. Also on the horizon for late this year: the start of planning for the art pieces that will be incorporated into the building design.
Thank you to the community for your continued and valued support of the Pratt Museum's capital project.
To maximize opportunities presented while planning for a new museum building and site improvements, multiple efforts are underway for various areas of operations. These operations areas include membership, communications, exhibits and education programs. Your input on an online survey will help maximize the quality of each Pratt’s visitor’s experiences. This input will help ensure that the new facility and its programming meet current and future needs of audiences, in a financially sustainable way, for many years to come. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.
Woodard Creek Restoration Project
The Pratt Museum has planned rehabilitation of Woodard Creek as an important part of its long-term site vision. Initial discussion of “daylighting” the creek began in 2007, and a concept plan of the museum grounds showing the creek removed from the existing culvert was circulated to the public in 2008. The development of a final design will be completed in cooperation with city planners, appropriate local and national regulatory agencies, and our architecture team. The community will have an opportunity for input on the draft design. Our intent is to develop a project that is both ecologically sound and responsive to the civic concerns of the city and other downstream property owners. Homer-based geophysicist Geoff Coble is the lead contractor on the project. We have just received notification on the success of our CIAP (Coastal Impact Assistance Program) grant intended to fund project planning and design. Work will proceed on the design and engineering for this project over the next couple of years.
Approximately 500 feet of Woodard Creek flows across the Pratt Museum's property. During the construction of the current building, about 120 feet of the creek was diverted through a culvert to allow for the construction of the existing paved parking lot of the Museum. In addition, runoff from the museum roof and much of the paved parking was designed to discharge directly into the creek. As a project connected to the larger capital project for a new building, the Museum would like to remove this culvert, convert the asphalt area adjacent to the creek to pedestrian and garden space, and rebuild the creek bed and floodplain. A major goal of the creek rehabilitation will be to restore much of the lost wetland functions, including improving infiltration, restoring floodplain area, creating stream bank habitat, and reducing flow velocity at both low and high stages.
During the week of September 24, activity on the Pratt grounds will include soil testing for the capital building project as well as boring wells for the creek project. There will be some noise and disruption during the clearing and drilling activities.
Capital Project Update, August 2012
As we near the end of the schematic design phase, we wish to express our appreciation to everyone who has contributed ideas and comments along the way.
The following drawings show the exterior, floor plan, and elevations of the new building. The site plans show Phase 1 with the new building in place; Phase 2 is the long-range concept for the site, once the Woodard Creek restoration project is complete.
We are very excited about the building design. Some of the new features include:
- Dedicated space for education programs and community gatherings, both indoors and out
- Expanded gallery space with new and updated exhibits, along with additional
space for rotating exhibits.
- Expanded collections storage with state of the art temperature and humidity controls. Space for research, collections conservation, and exhibit preparation
- Additional restrooms, including a family restroom
- Full compliance with the Americans with Disability Act
- Increased building system efficiency for long-term energy efficiency
- A building designed for flexibility and anticipation of future growth
Capital Project Update, April 2012
Pratt Museum held a Design Workshop for community input on March 29. Staff and community members along with the architects discussed the latest drafts of the exterior appearance, schematic design of the new building’s interior and site plan layout of the museum’s 9.3 acre urban green space. The design of the supports on the front entry and over the deck was inspired by the rigging on commercial fishing boats. The drawings are posted here and will also be in the Pratt’s lobby the week of the 9th. Please feel welcome to send us your comments to email@example.com. We are collecting input on this stage of design through the first week in May.
Capital Project Update, January 2012
At the January design workshop staff and community members saw a refined adjacency diagram of the interior museum space as well as a first look at a preliminary sketch of what the exterior might look like. The front view of the exterior includes a large wall to the right which may be a great spot for an art piece. After looking over these drawings, send us your comments.
Capital Project Update, November 15, 2011
The Pratt Museum held a design workshop on Monday, November 14. At this workshop, staff, board members, and community members provided input on the building and site layout to two architects from the Pratt’s contracted firm, Livingston Slone. A three-dimensional model of the Pratt’s 9.3-acre property and moveable foam core blocks of major spaces or structures were used to explore several layout options and consider issues such as work area and gallery adjacencies, shipping/receiving needs, exhibit installations, humidity and temperature control, sight lines, flow, outdoor event spaces, parking, and access. The architects will use input from these workshops to develop the new building and updated site concepts.
Draft concepts of the ideas developed at the workshop will be available for comment and further community input in a few weeks. The next design workshop with the architects is scheduled for mid-January; the specific date and time for the community meeting will be posted on the Pratt’s web site calendar, local media, and in the monthly electronic newsletter as soon as they are established. The Pratt’s staff and Board of Directors would like all interested community members to be heard during this process.
Capital Project Update, November 9, 2011
Mark your calendars for the next design workshop with the architects, which is planned for November 14th, from 5 to 6:30pm. At this workshop, the architects will lead us through an exploration of the relationship of spaces within the building to each other and to the site.
After deliberating for over a year and a half, the Pratt’s Board of Directors has decided to proceed with design of the new building and site without the existing museum building. This was an extremely difficult decision for the Board to make: Many folks within our community have historical and emotional ties to the existing building, and this building has been well-used and well-loved for a long time.
The primary reason for the capital project is to improve the Pratt’s ability to meet its mission to care for collections and help bring the stories of our history and place to our community, visitors and the next generation. The Board’s decision on the existing building took into account factors including financial sustainability, site utilization including the amount of area needed for parking, and operational efficiency.
Some of the features that are most popular will inform the design of the new building. Community members have provided guidance for the architects with a recent style exercise, identifying exteriors and interiors of buildings that are appealing to them.
We will continue to look to the community, over the next few years of planning and work, to provide additional ideas for ways to recycle and reuse building materials. One idea is to place the boat display structure on the site of the original building so the foundation can be re-used. We will consider this and other ideas as we move forward. The Board and staff wish to honor the current building and all those people who worked so hard over the past several decades to make this community’s museum so highly-regarded.
Thank you to everyone who provided input through community meetings or talking with Board or staff individually.
Capital Project Update, July 11, 2011
The Pratt Museum is pleased to announce the selection of the architectural firm that will design the Homer community’s new Museum building: the Anchorage firm of Livingston Slone. Tom Livingston and Joe Abegg will be the primary architects on the building project. “The Pratt Museum is the jewel of Homer and a source of great pride to Alaskans. Livingston Slone is honored to assist this National Merit Award-winning museum in designing their new facility,” said Tom Livingston.
Tom Livingston, raised in Anchor Point and a frequent visitor to Homer, will provide design team leadership, project and contract management, and quality control. Livingston has provided these services for some of Alaska’s most unique museum facilities, community/cultural centers, and other public facilities, including 18 museum projects. He is known for this thorough knowledge of technical and aesthetic challenges of museum buildings in all regions of Alaska. Livingston has worked with countless community groups, small municipalities and nonprofit organizations to bring their projects to successful fruition. His portfolio contains over 300 projects, including the firm’s entire museum portfolio and various museum/display facilities imbedded in other projects.
Joe Abegg will serve as project architect. Abegg has provided design expertise for numerous museums and community centers, many of which have received design awards for attention to arctic issues and sustainable design. A LEED Accredited Professional, Abegg’s designs consistently incorporate energy
efficiencies. His award-winning design of the YKHC Community Health Services Building in Bethel was featured as a case study in a national American Institute of Architects (AIA) publication on energy efficient design. Abegg’s portfolio includes numerous relevant projects, including the $33 million Alaska SeaLife Center, for which he designed education areas, animal habitat and rehabilitation areas, and wet and dry research labs; and for which the project was awarded the AIA’s Honor Award for Design Excellence. Other relevant projects include the North Slope Borough Cultural Center; Museum of the Aleutians; Yupik Cultural Center; the Pratt Museum’s expansion (in the 1980s); and Campbell Creek Science Center.
A project launch reception is scheduled for August 1 from 5:30 to 6:30pm, when community members may meet the architects and learn more about the schedule for fall public design meetings.
Request for Proposals: Architectural and Design Services
The Pratt Museum is accepting proposals for architectural and design services for the planning and design of a new building. Copies of the complete RFP (including addendum) can be downloaded here. Copies of the 31 March addendum can be downloaded here. To be notified of changes please register by email.
Capital Project Update: March 25
The Pratt Museum has issued/published a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the project architect. The goal is to have a qualified firm hired and working on concepts for the new building starting this summer. Based on community input, the Board has identified Site Option 2 (the central area) as the first choice and Site Option 3 (the southeast corner) as the second choice for the location of the new building. The Board’s final site decision will be made after completion of a site survey to be conducted this spring.
Capital Project Update, December 22, 2010
As part of the ongoing capital project planning process, the Pratt hosted a series of three community meetings on November 18, 20 and December 6 to gather input on repurposing possibilities for the current museum building and discussion about the location of the new building. These two issues need to be addressed before the request for proposals for architects can be distributed and schematic design work begins. These three sessions were filled with active discussion by participants who expressed a variety of opinions and suggestions. There was also time allotted for questions and answers about the project.
Repurposing the Existing Building: These discussions produced many ideas for potential uses of the existing facility. Participants were told that the criteria to be used while examining the options include the degree of alignment with the Pratt’s mission and the potential user must be financially self-sustaining. The Pratt can do one capital project (the new building) and cannot take on the expenses of a second full-sized building. Ideas from community members included: Nonprofit office space, theater and performing arts space, Native cultural center, Native art gallery, arts and cultural center, artist studios, convention center, community school, satellite for Native Heritage Center, Arctic Studies Center satellite, space for the Boys and Girls club, science/research center, space for Fireweed Academy, and conversion of the building to a parking garage, greenhouse or boat barn. In the financial sustainability discussion, community members suggested additional ideas for organizations that may have the resources to renovate and maintain the current building: Native corporations; other museums that may want a satellite location; government agencies, such as the Park Service; or the University of Alaska. Groups that do not have a sponsoring organization would need to form a community coalition, or some other kind of entity, to take the project forward and raise the necessary funds.
Location of the New Building: The three general building location options were presented (available here). Option 1 has the new building located in the northwest portion of the Museum property. Main access to the Museum would be from Spruceview Street. Option 2A and 2B shows the new building located in the center of the property, just south of the current shop building. Option 3A and 3B locates the building between Woodard Creek and Bartlett Street directly south of the current Museum location. Overall, participants favored Options 2 and 3 over Option 1.
Comments on Option 1 included perceived access problems and no view of the building from the street; the building being located too far from the creek; a large impact to the forest trails area; and the large amount of parking lot area that would be viewable from Bartlett Street. It was noted that this option would allow plenty of space for expansion and would have the least street noise.
Option 2 (includes 2A and 2B) locates the building in the center of the property (south of the shop). It was noted that if the current building is repurposed, the new building may not be easily visible from the street. Positive comments on this option included: good parking and access, lower impact on forest trails (than option 1), more room for future expansion (than option 3), more options to “guide” visitors across grounds and into the Museum, and attractive and appealing landscaping possibilities. Negative comments included: The view of the new building may be blocked by parking/boat barn/old building, interfering with the visual impact of the new building, and the large amount of forested area that would have to be cleared to accommodate the building. There is a substantial increase in the amount of parking needed, if the old building is kept, to accommodate the needs of two buildings with active programs.
Option 3 (includes 3A and 3B) shows the new building on a small knoll between Woodard Creek and Bartlett Street directly south of the current museum location. The Homestead Cabin would be moved to a new location on the grounds. Some participants noted that this location may only be viable if the current building is removed or converted to the boat barn (a smaller facility), due to the need to consider space for future expansion of the Museum and the narrowness of the available building area. Positive comments included: good drainage, good street presence, the “wow” factor due to visibility from both Bartlett Street and Pioneer Avenue, and the potential for an unobstructed view of the Bay.
Site Considerations: Discussion in the meetings also included soils, drainage, and the amount of setback needed if the section of Woodard Creek on museum property is day lighted. If the existing building is kept and the Creek is opened up, the back office area would need to be removed to create more distance from the Creek. The impact of street noise was discussed in relation to the quality of experience of visitors, on the grounds and within the buildings. Some participants also seemed to feel that having the boat barn be the first thing that visitors saw as they entered the grounds was not ideal. Access for large RVs, buses and delivery trucks was discussed, along with the need for handicapped parking close to the building. Parking and access on some of the site concept drawings need to be adjusted.
We encourage you to continue send your suggestions though email, mail, or personal visit. We’ll be looking for public input on the repurposing ideas and new building location at least through February 2011. Meanwhile, we will be following up on the repurposing ideas that could meet the outlined criteria of mission alignment and financial sustainability.
Another community meeting is scheduled to be held at the Homer Council on the Arts on January 19, to further discuss the idea of repurposing the building as an arts and cultural center.
Additional meetings may be scheduled on particular topics These will be announced in the newspapers, on the radio, here on the web site, and by email.
Stay tuned! There’s more to come. . .
Capital Project Update, September 27, 2010
We invite you to join us in the continuing conversation and planning for the Pratt Museum’s Capital Project. This fall we will have several opportunities for community members to share ideas on repurposing possibilities for the existing building and to provide input on the location of the new building. We will be starting off with an engaging session in mid-October where you can come in and share your thoughts or feelings about what is important to you in a museum.
As always, if you are unable to come to a meeting you can email your comments or mail them to Pratt Museum, 3779 Bartlett Street, Homer, AK 99603.
What is a Museum? Thursday, October 14th, 5:30 to 7:00pm. At this informal community conversation participants will have an opportunity to share ideas of what is important to you about museums. What inspires you? What ignites your curiosity or your desire to learn more? How can a museum best serve its community? What types of events or exhibits are most interesting to you?
Repurposing the Existing Building Thursday, November 18th, 5 to 6:30pm. This is an opportunity to explore the potential for different uses by the community or other organizations of part or all of the existing building that would also align with the Pratt’s mission.
Repurposing the Existing Building/ Location of the New Building Saturday, November 20th, 3 to 5pm. See descriptions above and below.
Location of the New Building Monday, December 6th, 12pm to 1:30pm. We will be examining three primary options for locating the new museum and gathering your thoughts on the pros and cons of each.
Capital Project Update, August 8, 2010
Planning for the capital project continues, and we are preparing for another community meeting to discuss a number of development options. To facilitate this discussion, the Pratt Museum’s pre-development architect has rendered five options for placement of the new building on the Museum’s 9.3 acres of property. These options will be discussed at a community meeting scheduled for this Fall, which will be announced publicly on this site and in the media. To send us your comments, contact Diane Converse . Click on the thumbnails below to see a full-sized image of each option. Click Here for a one page comparison of all options.
Option 1A - New construction on NW portion of property. The existing build is reused by other organizations, and adequate parking is provided for both facilities. A boathouse is added near the existing shop.
Option 2A - New construction in the central portion of the property. The existing building is removed and a boathouse is constructed on the site of the old building reusing the foundations and salvaged materials.
Option 2B - New construction located in central area of property and the existing building repurposed. Parking is expanded to accommodate both facilities. A boathouse is located to the SE of the new museum building.
Option 3A - New construction is located on SE of property. The original building is removed and replaced with parking. A boathouse is located near the current shop.
Option 3B - New construction is located on SE of property. The existing building is removed and a boathouse is constructed on the site of the old building reusing the foundations and salvaged materials. Parking area is minimized.
Capital Project Update, April 14, 2010
We are pleased to announce that the Pratt Museum is taking the next step in our capital project as
we near the conclusion of the conceptual design phase. The recent focus of the conceptual
process involved the Pratt looking at whether renovating the existing building or building a new one
would best serve community and Museum needs. For economic reasons and to best care for and
share our collections, the Board has decided to support the new construction option. Responding
to suggestions from the community, and recognizing that the existing building could serve other
purposes, the Board also directed staff to examine the feasibility of repurposing the existing
Primary reasons for the decision include:
Better conservation of and access to the collections. With a new building, collections
storage, conservation space, and exhibit space will be designed to museum industry
standards; we will gain more space through standard-height museum ceilings in addition
to the square footage.
Flexibility in operations and longer-term expansion potential to better serve the
community. Museums are more dynamic than they used to be: We can create a place
that responds to community needs with education and gathering spaces, use of new
technology, and the ability to grow.
Lower utility costs. The new construction option will be about 2,000 square feet less in area
than the renovated and expanded building option would be, to achieve the same design
goals, because of design efficiencies. New mechanical systems designed for the space
should result in more efficient energy use and smaller relative costs.
Longer overall building life. New construction is expected to last longer (50 years versus 30
years for renovation), resulting in a lower overall project cost.
The conceptual phase of the capital project will be wrapped up this Spring; we expect to begin
design later this year. This continues the process that was started nearly 10 years ago when the
need for major upgrades to the Museum was recognized. The next few years will be busy ones, as
we engage in the building design process and flesh out the plans for our 9.3-acre site. At the same
time, the leadership gift phase of the fundraising effort will continue. The goal is to begin
construction in 2014, depending on fundraising progress. Based on a 2009 fundraising feasibility
study, the Pratt is working with an $8.5 million budget. Of this amount, $1.7 million has already
We encourage you to engage in this process and share your ideas and comments as we proceed.
Watch our website (www.prattmuseum.org) for updates and opportunities to participate as we
move through the exciting planning and design process ahead.
More Information on the Project LINKS:
Building Condition Report | A complete survey of the condition of the museum building.
Museum Exhibit Plan | Master exhibit plan that guides our future exhibit development.
Accessibility Survey 2006 | Assessment of the current handicap accessibility of museum facilities.
To read these documents, you'll need the Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Click the icon below to download.
The success of this process relies on broad community involvement. If this project is something you'd like to be involved in, please contact us.
Pratt Museum, Capital Campaign
3779 Bartlett Street
Homer, Alaska 99603
Phone: 907 235-8635
Michele Miller, Director Of Development | Email.
Capital project planning at the Pratt Museum is generously funded by the Patrons Of the Pratt Society, the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Rasmuson Foundation and the Foraker Group Pre-development program.
Museum Awarded Challenge Grant
The Pratt Museum was awarded a $750,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in December 2009 to support its upcoming capital project. This prestigious grant requires the Museum to match the award amount on a 3 to 1 basis. To receive the entire award amount, the museum will need to raise $2.25 million from non-federal-government sources. The grant is to be used to expand, preserve, interpret and share the Pratt humanities collections through its capital project. The funds cannot be used to cover annual operations expenses (salaries, utility costs, or office supplies). The planned museum growth will provide for good stewardship of the Museum's collections, expand the research and conservation areas, complete Phase 2 of the Master Exhibit Plan, and improve educational programming for the 4,000 students that visit the Pratt each year. With the support of the community, private donors, local government agencies, and private foundations, we look forward to meeting this challenge and improving facilities and programming at the museum!