Conservation of 19th Century Alaskan Kayaks

CONSERVATION OF 19th CENTURY ALASKAN KAYAKS AT WHALING MUSEUM HELPS PRESERVE NATIVE ALASKAN TRADITIONS

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NEW BEDFORD, MA (October 21, 2008 ) – In the New Bedford Whaling Museum, working in the shadow of the Lagoda, the half-scale model of a 19th century whaleship, Art Conservator Alexandra Allardt, principal of ArtCare Resources in Newport, RI, is cleaning and treating a trio of native Alaskan kayaks from the Museum’s collection. She plans on spending many hours over the next several months working to preserve these rare 19th century kayaks in an effort to make sure that future generations can learn more about the Native Alaskan peoples who made them.

“Working on the kayaks in the museum adjacent to the half-size whaling ship allows for an amazing comparison in size between the two cultures, and underscores the immense skill and degree of risk these native peoples took when hunting,” she notes.  In the kayak currently undergoing treatment, Ms. Allardt says, “I am impressed by the quality of the skins and their undamaged state,” and that she “has never seen one that is this old and has no structural damage.” The kayak came into the Museum collection in 1904 as the 55th object. It originates from Cape Epsenberg, Alaska and dates to 1878.

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