The Alaska State Museum’s summer exhibits that highlight World War II in Alaska are closing October 13th. Museum officials say they will be the last major, locally curated exhibits before the current museum is dismantled and rebuilt as the proposed State Library, Archives, and Museum or SLAM project.
“When Over There Was Here” and “Kiska: A World War II Battlefield Landscape” feature artifacts recovered from Attu and Kiska, and Dirk Spennemann’s photographs of the remnants of the Aleutian Campaign.
Curator of Collections Steve Henrikson says it was ‘all hands on deck’ for the planning, item acquisition, preparation, and installation of the exhibit.
Among some of the featured items include uniforms, service patches, propaganda leaflets, a Japanese 37 mm field gun and an infantry gun, a Japanese flag carried by soldiers during the last charge on American troops on Attu, and artifacts from Lt. Henry Hubbard.
Hubbard was one of the first casualties reported when the U.S Army attempted to push back Japanese forces during the Aleutian Campaign. Hubbard was a navigator aboard a B-24 bomber that was shot down during a mission over Kiska Island in June, 1942. Many of Hubbard’s remaining personal effects likely would’ve disappeared forever if not for Alaska aviation historians who intervened and had the artifacts donated to the Alaska State Museum and Historical Collections. Hubbard’s daughter Gail Reban had put some of the items up on the internet auction site eBay and threw the rest out in the trash. Alaska aviation historian Ted Spencer contacted Reban before the items were lost forever. Some of those artifacts are now featured during the current exhibit at the Alaska State Museum.
You can find out more in this story that originally aired in 2005:iFriendlyAudio