A number of old glass bottles sit in front of a plain white background.
A selection of early 20th century bottles recovered from a privy pit in Seward, Alaska.

NPS Photo

Kenai Fjords' museum collection consists of more than 250,000 objects including herbarium specimens, preserved small mammals, stone artifacts, photographs, and oral history recordings. The collection supports the park's research and preservation strategies based on its enabling legislation with additional guidance from the park’s Foundation Statement, General Management Plan, Scope of Collections Statement, and park interpretive themes.

The collection of natural and cultural specimens began soon after Kenai Fjords was established in 1980. During the early 1980s, park rangers focused heavily on the collection of plant specimens and wildlife observations. Later, two significant archeological collections were made as a result of the National Park Service (NPS) Systemwide Archeological Inventory Program survey of the mid 1990s, and the Kenai Fjords Coastal Archeology project in the early 2000s. Beginning in 2003, the NPS Natural Resource Inventory and Monitoring Program (I&M) initiated surveys within Kenai Fjords. I&M collections of mammals, plants, fish, invertebrates and associated records quickly became the park’s most aggressive collecting endeavor. In 2013, collections continue to grow with the primary contribution being park generated records.

The park archives consist of an extensive collection of official park records, visitor registers, research project materials, images, oral histories They also includes archeological project documents, historic records, park administrative documents, resource management records, maps, drawings, documents associated with natural resource studies and inventories, photographs, reports, oral histories and electronic media.

The majority of Kenai Fjords’ collections are housed at two facilities. The NPS Alaska Region Curatorial Center is the repository for the majority of the park’s archives, archeological collections, herbarium specimens, and a few natural and historical objects. The University of Alaska at Fairbanks holds a large number of herbarium and mammal specimens.

A small, round, black bead with a hole in the middle.
Coal or jet bead from Kenai Fjords' collection.

Photo / R. Eagle

The Collection of Kenai Fjords National Parks

As of 2013, the Kenai Fjords collections include:

  • Archeological artifacts: 27,230
  • Historical objects: 47
  • Documents in the park archives: 249,250
  • Biological specimens: 3,618

Total: 280,155 items


Collection Use

To fulfill the principles and purposes of the park collection, items are made available for use in exhibits, research and interpretive programs. Consistent with collection preservation practices, all use is supervised by museum staff and consumptive use is avoided. When items are needed for cultural demonstrations, the use of replicas is required. Papers, logs and photographs may be duplicated to reduce wear on the originals. Duplicate copies are often filed in the park libraries.

Objects in on-site collection include:

  • Herbarium specimens (plants, lichen, algae) and tree cores
  • Geology specimens
  • Research project materials
  • Mining tools
  • Ranger logs & reports
  • Maps
  • Weather records
  • Photographs & slides
  • Audio/video recordings


Plant Specimens

Many of the park's plant specimens are curated at the University of Alaska, Museum of the North. The collection can be searched and viewed through the Arctos Collection Managment Information System, which serves as a multi-institution, multi-collection museum database.


Research Requests

Kenai Fjords' museum collections serve as scientific and historical documentation for the park's resources. They provide baseline information for park planning, management activities, research and interpretive and educational programs. For research requests, questions and other inquiries, please email the park's Cultural Resources Manager.

Learn more about museum collections across the National Park Service and search thousands of images and records from its museum collections.

Last updated: March 29, 2018

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 1727
Seward , AK 99664


907 422-0500

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