Backstory and Context
The Erskine House, located in Kodiak, Alaska, was built in 1808 by Russian colonists.The colonists primarily sold and traded pelts, so they decided to settle in that area because there was a large population of seals and sea otters in the surrounding archipelago. The Erskine house was primarily used to store otter pelts. In 1867, Alaska was sold to the U.S, and shorty after, the Erskine house began to be used as living quarters for members of the San Fransisco-based Alaska Commercial Company. The ACC provided commercial and financial services, such as steamship transport, that supported the Alaskan fur trade. Later in 1911, the ACC Kodiak station manager, W.J. Erskine bought the building as a family home. In 1967, the nearly 160 year old building was renovated by the Kodiak Historical Society, with help from the State of Alaska, and the Baranov Museum was established.
The museum's collections and exhibitions are focused on the history of the Kodiak Archipelago and the Aleutian Islands, with particular focus on the early American and Russian periods. There are also collections from the Native Alutiiq Indians that first inhabited the area, such as a 26-foot long wooden kayak and Alutiiq ceremonial objects. There is an extensive collection of photographs of the soldiers stationed on Kodiak during World War II.
Educational opportunities are provided for all ages through many different programs, such as arts and crafts workshops, group tours, professional lectures, or even artist or musical receptions.