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Alaskans to Attend Museums Advocacy Day
Valdez, Alaska, February 7, 2020 -In February, Michelle Cullen and Patricia Relay from the Valdez Museum & Historical Archive, and Della Hall and Selena Ortega-Chiolero from Museums Alaska will travel to Washington, D.C., joining more than 300 museum professionals from across the country for Museums Advocacy Day, February 23-25, 2020 hosted by the American Alliance of Museums. The purpose is to share the important work museums do with their legislators.
Cullen, Relay, Hall, and Ortega-Chiolero are proud to be attending Advocacy Day. After past years’ Museums Advocacy Day visits all Alaskan legislators have joined in support of continued funding for important federal grant programs and agencies that support museums.
has over 100 museums, cultural centers and historic properties that preserve
and exhibit our history. They are anchor institutions, rooted in their communities
that deliver education services, research opportunities, exhibit local art and
culture, provide public programs and generate revenue through cultural tourism.
cultural affiliations and geographic distances are immense. Federally supported
grants are vital to our cultural organizations, especially in remote
communities such as Valdez. With a population of 3,800 residents Valdez has just
one venue in which artists can exhibit their work. It is only through the
Alaska State Council on the Arts Community Arts Development Grant, funded by
the National Endowment for the Arts, that the Valdez Museum can provide a venue
for local and regional artists.
American Alliance of Museums’ publication, Museums
as Economic Engines: A National Report, is an unprecedented economic study
to quantify the economic value and impact of museums nationwide. Researched and
prepared in partnership with Oxford Economics with support from the Andrew W.
Mellon Foundation, this comprehensive report outlines the economic benefit of
museums, including jobs, direct spending and supply-chain effects. Museums
support their communities plus create jobs and wages vital to the health of
states, “Gathering in Washington D.C.
each year with museum professionals to advocate for the field from around the
country has been such a wonderful and beneficial experience. The fact that our
little delegation travels so far to make a case for the important work that
museums do in Alaska highlights our dedication to the field. I am so thankful to
Alaska’s representation for their recognition of this effort and their
willingness to meet with Alaskamuseum
professionals about supporting the arts and humanities in the great state of
Hall became the Executive Director of Museums Alaska in 2017. She holds an MA
from University of Delaware in History and Museum Studies, a BS in History,
Technology, and Society from Georgia Institute of Technology, and has worked
with museums for over a decade. Hall has served on the Alaska State Historical
Records Advisory Board, and currently serves on the Coalition of State Museum
Associations Board, which will hold its annual meeting in conjunction with
Museums Advocacy Day for the second time this year.
Ortega-Chiolero has been the Museum Specialist for Chickaloon Native Village,
an Ahtna Athabascan Tribe in Southcentral Alaska, since 2018. She holds degrees
in Art History and Asian Studies from California State University, Sacramento,
and is currently completing a Museum Studies indigenous certification program
through the Institute of American Indian Arts. Selena has been part of the
Alaska museum community for the past ten years working in a variety of areas
including museum administration, development, curatorial, collections, exhibitions
and programs. She is currently serving as the Board Secretary and Advocacy Task
Force Leader for Museums Alaska.
Relay became the Executive Director of the Valdez Museum & Historical
Archive in 2010. With over 20 years of experience, she has a lifelong love of
museums and cultural organizations. She believes that museums and galleries are
much more than places to store relics and artifacts. Museums serve as vital
community resources that provide gathering places where thoughtful exhibits and
educational opportunities co-exist, bringing communities together to learn, to
play and to delight in. Ms. Relay and her family moved to Valdez, Alaska from
Bellingham, Washington in 2010. She says, “I
cannot see myself anywhere else. Valdez is a wonderful place to call home.” She has a Bachelor of Arts in Art History
(2001) from Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington and a Master
of Arts in Arts Administration (2008) from Goucher College, Baltimore,
Cullen has been involved with the Valdez Museum & Historical Archive as a
volunteer, including Summer Programs Director. She recently retired from the VMHA
Board of directors after 9 years of service, but will continue to volunteer and
help with advocacy. She works as an adjunct professor at Prince William Sound
College in Valdez where she teaches Solar System Astronomy. Michelle has been
an advocate for the Valdez Museum in local, state and national venues. This is
her 5th year participating in Museums Advocacy Day.
About the Valdez
Valdez Museum & Historical Archive is an active place. We bring the stories
of our community’s history alive through our programs and activities. For more
information please visit our website at www.valdezmuseum.org or on
Facebook and Twitter.
Alaska supports museums and cultural centers in Alaska and enhances public
understanding of their value. To accomplish its organizational purpose Museums
Alaska maintains a central office to receive and disburse information about
museums, cultural centers and their activities, and to collect and share
professional opportunities. Museums Alaska organizes an annual meeting to focus
on the needs of Alaska museum professionals, volunteers, and their
institutions. For more information please visit our website at www.museumsalaska.org.