The Baranov Museum started designing new permanent exhibits in 2011. Now, eight years later, we are opening our doors with collaborative, community driven, approachable permanent exhibits that showcase Kodiak’s history.
The Baranov Museum was known as the Russian Museum. It was dated but well-respected. Now, with new exhibits and a new name, our purpose in our community is clear. We are the heart of Kodiak. We are about our community and its history. This place is for anyone who lives in or loves this place.
The new Kodiak History Museum logo is a representation of a key joint, the way the timbers were joined together in the iconic 200-year old building that houses the museum. In addition to representing the crown jewel of our collection, the Russian American Magazin, the key joint represents the coming together to build something stronger. A symbolic reflection for our restoration project and the future of the museum.
The Kodiak History Museum is a center of the community, where people come together to celebrate our culture through the eras and share Kodiak’s stories.
The Russian American Magazin was originally built by company craftsman as a storage facility (magazin is the Russian word for store). Built circa 1808, its contemporary presence serves as a reminder that Kodiak was established in 1793 as Pavlovsk, the first permanent Russian settlement in North America, and served as territorial capital until 1808. The building is the oldest in Alaska, the oldest documented log structure on the west coast of North America, and the earliest built Russian structure in the United States.
When the territory came under American control, the building was acquired by the Alaska Commercial Company where it continued business operations until 1911, when it was purchased by W.J. Erskine. An employee of the Alaska Commercial Company and prominent businessman, Erskine converted the building into a private residence making improvements to the foundation, constructing finished rooms within, and enclosing the sunporch. For more than three decades, the building was known as the Erskine House and served as a social hub for the community of Kodiak: a place where weddings, social mixers, and newcomers to the island were welcomed. The building was later acquired by the firm of Donnelly and Acheson in 1948 and converted into a boarding house.