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On December 19, 2009, the National Park Service and the NANA Regional Corporation hosted a community opening of the Northwest Arctic Heritage Center in Kotzebue, Alaska. The opening included the Northern Lights Dancers, songs from the Nikaitchuat school students, and the chance for people to enjoy the exhibits and book store.
First envisioned in 2002, the single-story structure is approximately 12,350 square feet. Space includes 8,450 sq. ft. for visitor services and 3,900 sq. ft. for NPS operations. It offers people of the region and visitors from around the world a high-quality interpretive experience of the natural and cultural history of the region, a variety of educational programs, and personal administrative services. The 90-person multipurpose room is being used for programs ranging from Junior Rangers, to research presentations, to native dances.
The Heritage Center was designed RIM Architects and constructed by Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation (UIC Construction). The exhibits were designed by AldrichPears Associates and produced and installed by Formation, Incorporated.
The NPS and NANA are currently planning a larger “grand opening” for June 2010.