The Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center in Haines is getting a big addition to its collection. While most of the exhibits are concentrated inside now, the museum will soon have a more artistic outdoor space, thanks to a donation from a longtime Haines resident.
Outside the museum, heavy machinery lifts large stone sculptures off of a flatbed truck, placing them on the lawn. A bear made by Haines artist Judd Mullady is lifted into the air. An otter has already made its way to the ground.
Several other sculptures will be placed around the museums grounds, each of them Mullady’s work, donated by longtime Haines resident Lucy Harrell.
“I was on their board of directors for several years and I was very much interested in the history and so on,” says Harrell. “It was a fun group of people. That has a lot to do with which organizations get supported. The ones that are fun do better than the ones that are sourpusses.”
Helen Alten is the museum director.
“She worked it out with him where she purchased his sculptures and then she was to donate them to us,” says Alten.
These aren’t the first of Mullady’s sculptures to claim a place outside the museum. Last year, they purchased two of his works through a grant from the Rasmusen Foundation.
“His works are throughout the town but we’ve never had them,” says Alten. “And that was partly why we were interested in purchasing a couple. We didn’t expect to then end up with most of them.”
The museum acquired a sculpture of a two sea lions, and one of a man’s face.
“Which looks like it’s just coming out of the hill,” says Alten. “That was our favorite when we looked at all of his sculptures.”
Last fall the museum installed a totem pole, and Mullady’s two pieces have been outside since the Spring. Alten says they’ve helped draw people in.
“They’ve really helped people be curious about us and want to come in and looking at us in a different way it sort of opened up who we were, we’ve always been sort of internal instead of external,” says Alten.
Now, the collection will include sculptures of an otter and an eagle, along with planters, a fountain.
“So it’s local marble, local slate, local stones,” says Alten.
Alten says this donation has pushed forward the museum’s goal of upgrading its outdoor space.
“This is part of a vision we have to open up and to open up to the water front,” says Alten. “So eventually having a trail that comes up from the waterfront.”
The museum hopes to add other sculptures as well, and also plans to install a small garden.