Construction workers this week began erecting the steel frame for Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Walter Soboleff Center in downtown Juneau.
The 29,000 square foot facility is scheduled for completion in January 2015.
SHI has raised about $17.5 million of the $20 million project cost. The nonprofit is planning a major fundraiser early next year to get closer to the overall goal.
Project manager and Sealaska Heritage Institute Chief Operating Officer Lee Kadinger says construction is moving quickly.
“Not too many $20 million facilities are built in a year and half, two year time frame. But we’re doing what we can to try and make that happen,” says Kadinger. “The foundation has been poured, it’s done. Now the steel is going up. By mid-January you are going to see the overall structure, the framework in all of its glory, showing the size of the facility.”
The facility is being named for the late Dr. Walter Soboleff, a Tlingit spiritual leader and educator who passed away in 2011. It will house Sealaska Heritage offices, as well as education, arts and language programs. It also will allow the
institute to bring all of its artifacts under one roof, where now many objects are stored at off-site locations.
“Our archives and our ethnographic collections, we really have some of the world’s most amazing treasures, hidden and tucked away,” Kadinger says.
He says SHI has received contributions for the project from more than 680 individuals, businesses, government agencies, and other nonprofits, including the State of Alaska, the City and Borough of Juneau, and the Rasmussen Foundation.
With less than $2.5 million still to raise, the heritage institute is planning an art auction fundraiser in February. Media and Publications Specialist Christy Eriksen says they’re calling it the Tináa Art Auction. The Tináa is an hourglass shaped symbol used in Southeast Native art that signifies wealth and trade.
“It’s a symbol that we wanted to use in our auction, because what often happened is when you would give it to somebody, it would be worth more than the actual value of the piece,” Eriksen says. “So we wanted to kind of think about that sense of reciprocity we have with the community and the community has with us, and the idea of creating something, having something with more valuable than the actual physical thing.”
Eriksen says several highly regarded Southeast Native artists are donating pieces to the auction, including Preston Singletary, David Boxley, and Delores Churchill. The auction will be held February 1st at Juneau’s Centennial Hall.
Eriksen and Kadinger spoke Thursday to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.