Prehistoric and historic objects and places are preserved for the education, inspiration, and enjoyment of all. They forge connections between the present and past. The National Park Service cares for some of the largest and most diverse natural and cultural history collections in the world. It also keeps records and lists of our most treasured historic places.
Museum collections include: archeological artifacts, biological/geological/paleontological specimens, and artwork. Archival collections include: blueprints, drawings, maps, historic photographs, oral histories, multi-media, as well as records related to the Kennecott Copper Corporation and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve.
Museum Collections and the NPS
It is NPS policy to collect, protect, preserve, provide access to, and use of, park collections to aid understanding and advance knowledge. Collections play an important role in resource management, research, and interpretive programs; and function as baseline data for park natural and cultural resources. Each national park aims to meet the same legal mandates, and the standards and policies that have been set Service-wide, for museum collections. These uniform requirements protect the collections from inhospitable relative humidity, temperature, light, dust, water damage, and pests, as well as loss and deterioration over time.
Almost as important as protecting the objects, is documenting information about the objects, such as “who, what, when, where, why.” Objects separated from their associated data such as its location discovered are less valuable to the historical record. In some cases, it is just as important to leave the artifact at the site where it was found to maintain the historical integrity of the area.
Several plans direct the operations of museum collections: a scope of collections (defines the purpose of the park’s museum collections), a condition assessment, plans for management, storage, integrated pest management, and emergency operations. The Museum Curator monitors objects from the collections database, in order to ensure they are accounted for and properly preserved.
For questions about museum collections or to donate historical items to the park, please contact the Museum Curator e-mail us