Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

In an effort to keep community members and museum supporters informed during every stage of our New Museum Project we have provided answers to some commonly asked questions:

Why build a new museum?

The Museum’s current facilities – the Main Museum on Egan Drive and the Valdez Museum on Hazelet (Remembering Old Valdez Exhibit) – are inadequately sized and inefficient to operate. The configuration limits cultural, artistic and educational endeavors favored by community and regional users. A new museum facility will add vibrancy and value to downtown Valdez, giving visitors and residents a year-round gathering place.

Why is the Museum being rebuilt on the same site?

After a detailed site selection process, the existing site was chosen for the new museum facility. The advantages of this location include:

  • Proximity to other civic buildings such as the Library, City Hall and  Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Prominent location along Egan Drive, already owned by the City of Valdez
  • High potential impact for redevelopment of downtown and increase in property values

The conceptual design for the new Valdez Museum doesn’t look like other buildings downtown. How does this design relate to Valdez?

The design is highly responsive to the natural environment surrounding Valdez. The DESIGN CONCEPT and MATERIALITY boards describe the inspiration drawn from the water, sky, snow, geology and glacial movement; as well as how those ideas are reflected in the building design. The simple form and clean lines of the building will be an appropriate backdrop for the artistic and cultural artifacts to come to life and be on display.

Valdez is in a windy, snowy, and seismically active area. How does the building design and structure respond to those realities?

The new museum will have a flat roof so that snow and ice do not shed dangerously onto people, cars or museum artifacts.  Instead, snow will be retained on the roof where it will melt and drain internally. The structure of the building will take the significant weight of the accumulated snow into account, and the site is designed for efficient snow removal. Similarly, the structure will be designed to withstand a strong earthquake in a way that many other buildings in Valdez are not.

What is going to happen to the Old Town model?

The Old Town model is an important part of the collection and it will be placed on permanent display inside the new museum. It is currently planned to be in a prominent location on the second floor of the building. In addition to highlighting the physical model, the design of the public plaza in front of the Museum will be a large-scale interpretive exhibit of Old Town Valdez and its layout.

Why is there so much glass?

The use of glass on the building provides many benefits, including:

  • Allowing views into and out of the Museum, which better connects the museum to its surroundings
  • Welcoming visitors and creating a more inclusive museum
  • Introducing natural light into the building and reducing the need for artificial lighting

How does this design achieve the environmental and financial sustainability goals?

The design team is taking a holistic “net positive” approach to sustainability on the project. Among the aspects being considered are:

  • Renewable and recyclable materials such as wood and steel
  • Low skin-to-volume ratio and highly insulated walls for energy efficiency
  • Operational efficiencies from combining the Museum into a single location
  • Durable, low-maintenance and low-carbon exterior and interior finish materials
  • Possibility of including photo-voltaic panels for on-site energy production

Aren’t there challenges with having so many windows into the Museum?

The windows will include a ceramic frit, which is essentially a partial shading or frosting of the glass surface. The frit is designed to simulate the increasing visual density of snowfall as one looks from the ground up into the sky. Besides its aesthetic impact, the frit serves multiple other purposes, including:

  • Moderating the amount of solar heat gain in the building during the long daylight hours in summer
  • Reducing the glare created by sunlight shining through the glass
  • Making the windows visible to birds and preventing them from striking the building