Using Museum Collections to Create Fiction

The Whaling Museum’s world class collection of literature, charts, maps, logbooks, journals, photographs and extensive array of artifacts attracts researchers from across the globe. One of those individuals, author Don Rearden, a professor of writing at University of Alaska – Anchorage, spend a week in here in June 2012 as a Scholar in Residence. His goal was to learn more about the bowhead whale and whaling in Alaska, as he prepared to write a book he will most likely call “Heart of a Whale”.  As you will read in this article from the Anchorage Daily News, he was inspired to write this story after learning about the incredible longevity of these massive whales.

Mr. Rearden’s first book, The Raven’s Gift, was a very interesting and gripping story of survival, clashes of culture and the importance of cooperation in the face of dire circumstances.  The Yupik connection was especially intriguing when one considers the eight years of partnership the Whaling Museum shared with the Alaska Native Heritage Center and the others in the ECHO (Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations) Project that wrapped up in 2011. I suspect that Don’s next book will be just as readable and entertaining.

We hope to share more work created by other Scholars in Residence in the coming months.

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