Welcome to the Maxine & Jesse Whitney Museum
When Maxine and Jesse Whitney came to Alaska in 1947, they never imagined they’d end up staying for good. But stay they did, making a fresh start in a new land they soon called home.
Over the years, Maxine collected an astonishing array of Alaskan art, artifacts, and animals to sell in her gift shop- many of which you see here today. They reflect the scenes and stories that captured her imagination at the time, and the imagination of those who bought from her gift shop.
Collections tell stories
Behind every great collection, there are stories about objects- often fascinating ones. Usually, the stories focus on who made them or who used them. But what about the people who collected the objects? When we look at a collection like Maxine’s, we often learn as much about the collector as we do about the objects.
Objects are clues to the past
Most of us have dabbled in collecting, whether it was souvenir spoons, recipe books, baseball cards, or antiques. These objects represent what was important to us at a certain moment in time- even if the spoons now collect dust in the attic and the baseball cards have long been traded away.
Many of today’s greatest collections were gathered by people years ago when spiritual beliefs, laws, and cultural values were very different. Like us, people found, traded, and bought objects because they were touchable evidence of what they valued: a culture believed to be on the brink of extinction, an important historical moment, or a personal memory of a place or experience.
“My interest really began years earlier with Alma Eades. She used to tell of her childhood, helping her father gather Indian relics in the Columbia River area in the state of Washington where they lived. This became quite a family venture and they put together quite a collection. Alma brought her passion for collecting artifacts with her to Fairbanks. After Naulon and Alma finished their log home, they built an annex to accommodate her arrowheads, rocks, and gems.” –Maxine Whitney-