Dr. Rosita Worl, president of the Sealaska Heritage Institute, speaks Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, about plans to build a Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus in the current location of the Sealaska Corporation parking lot. SHI this week received word that it received a federal grant of more than $5.6 million for the $12 million project, which, along with donations and grants from other sources, puts the project at 70 percent toward its funding goal. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Dr. Rosita Worl, president of the Sealaska Heritage Institute, speaks Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, about plans to build a Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus in the current location of the Sealaska Corporation parking lot. SHI this week received word that it received a federal grant of more than $5.6 million for the $12 million project, which, along with donations and grants from other sources, puts the project at 70 percent toward its funding goal. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

New downtown arts campus could break ground by June 2020

Sealaska Heritage Institute awarded federal grant for project

Sealaska Heritage Institute is launching a fundraising campaign to build a new arts campus with most of the money needed already in hand.

The nonprofit for protecting and promoting Alaska Native arts and cultures announced Wednesday it received a federal grant of more than $5.6 million to be used for the construction of the Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus to be located at the current Sealaska Corporation parking lot.

The federal grant, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Education, along with donations and other grants means the project is now at slightly more than 70 percent — $8.5 million — of its $12 million funding goal, according to SHI. The project, which would include classrooms, maker spaces and more was initially conceived as a more modest arts park, SHI President Dr. Rosita Worl told the Empire.

Sealaska Heritage Institute announced Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, it is raising money to build a Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus in the current location of the Sealaska Corporation parking lot. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sealaska Heritage Institute announced Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, it is raising money to build a Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus in the current location of the Sealaska Corporation parking lot. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

“It evolved from an arts park to an arts campus because of our arts programming,” Worl said. “We had this vision to make Juneau the Northwest Coast arts capital. We also want to make Northwest Coast arts a national treasure.”

The goal is to break ground on the project during Celebration 2020, according to SHI. The biennial celebration of Southeast Alaska Native Culture is scheduled for June 10-13.

Since the project would be built on the site of an existing parking lot, parking will be moved underground into a garage similar to the one at the Alaska State Library, Archives and Museum.

The underground structure will provide the exact same number of parking spaces as currently exist above ground, according to SHI, and current designs would add nine spaces on the surface. Current parking spaces are designated for employees and will remain as such, according to SHI, and there have not been discussions about implementing public paid parking.

This conceptual art depicts what Heritage Square would look like after the completion of a proposed Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus. (Courtesy Photo | MRV Architects)

This conceptual art depicts what Heritage Square would look like after the completion of a proposed Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus. (Courtesy Photo | MRV Architects)

The arts campus is intended to include indoor and outdoor space that will provide artists room to make pieces such as totem poles and canoes, performing arts and Alaska Native art markets. Classrooms, an art library and space for artists-in-residence are also planned.

A lot of artwork is also planned for the campus, including a totem pole and five monumental bronze masks representing Iñupiat; Yup’ik; Athabaskan; Alutiiq and Unangan; and Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian peoples.

“Part of our mission is promoting cross-cultural understanding,” Worl said. “What better way to do that than having an arts park here? It’s a symbol of our whole culture, and it just seemed like the perfect thing to do.”


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

A photo taken from the terminal roof shows the extent of the first phase of paving to accommodate large aircraft. (Mike Greene / City and Borough of Juneau)
Large-scale repaving project plants itself at Juneau International Airport

Work may take two to three years, schedule seeks to limit impact on operations.

Capital Transit buses wait to depart from the downtown transit center on Thursday. Route number 8 was adjusted this spring. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
More service, visitor information helping Capital Transit to keep up with extra cruise passenger traffic

Remedies made after residents unable to board full buses last year seem to be working, officials say

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, May 23, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 22, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Campaign buttons urging Alaskans to repeal ranked choice voting in Alaska sit on a picnic table at the home of Phil Izon, a backer of the initiative, in Wasilla, Alaska, on Tuesday, May 14. Arguments are scheduled May 28 in a lawsuit challenging the state Division of Election’s decision to certify the initiative for placement on the ballot this year. (Mark Thiessen / AP)
Ranked-choice voting has challenged the status quo. Its popularity will be tested in November

Arguments scheduled Tuesday in Alaska lawsuit involving ballot initiative repealing RCV.

A sperm whale is seen in an undated photo published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (NOAA photo)
Alaska fisherman pleads guilty to federal charges after ordering crew to shoot whale

A Southeast Alaska troll fisherman has agreed to plead guilty to a… Continue reading

Juneau high school seniors Edward Hu of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé (left), Elizabeth Djajalie of Thunder Mountain High School (center) and Kenyon Jordan of Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School. (Photos of Hu and Jordan by Juneau Empire staff, photo of Djajalie by Victor Djajalie)
Senior Spotlight 2024: Three top students take very different paths to graduation stage

Ceremonies for Juneau’s three high schools take place Sunday.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

Most Read