June 12, 2008 at 2:23PM AKST
An idea that began two years ago came to life in an exhibit at the Museum of the Aleutians focusing on two centuries of history of the Holy Ascension Church.
There are more than 40 items in the exhibit highlighting different aspects of the church, including a glossary of the items in the exhibit and a chronology of the church’s history.
Among pieces in the exhibit are icons or religious art associated with the Orthodox Church.
A chronology of the church provided by the museum begins in 1727 with Bishop Innocent or Kul’chitsky and the establishment of the Diocese of Irkutsk as an independent see, ending in 2008 with its bicentennial celebration.
Originally the exhibit was going to be a series of images. Zoya Johnson, director of the Museum of the Aleutians, said that because the church has served as an object of inspiration to many artists, the goal was to find different media and genres of their work and create an exhibit.
However, the idea evolved to a complete look at the impact the church has had on the community of Unalaska over the past 200 years.
“We spent a lot of time doing researching over the past four months,” Johnson said.
“We received a lot of support from the parish and the church council.”
When researching the history of the church, records dating back to the early 1800s were used. There is also a display of a series of modern art pieces in various genres and media, and artifacts from the church that are more than 200 years old. A Bible and the blessing cross of Veniaminov are also on display.
The Aleutian Pribilofs Island Restitution Trust supported the project as well. Johnson said the project received a lot of help from historian Ray Hudson, Barbara Smith and Mina Jacobs with the Russian Orthodox Museum in Anchorage. Several items in the exhibit were borrowed from the museum.
Before the public opening, the museum hosted a private opening for the parish.
Johnson said she received positive feedback.
About 70 people attended a public opening on May 17. The exhibit will be continue until the end of September.
“(People in) the parish were very touched to see the way that we honor the church and the role in their lives and everyone’s that the church has played,” Johnson said.
“Every time someone new comes to the town, the first landmark they see is the Church of the Holy Ascension. In a way, it’s not only the symbol of the Unangan identity, it’s a symbol of the whole city and community,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to imagine Unalaska without the church.”
Meetings for the exhibit began in late 2007 with the help of Hudson. The museum worked hard to make sure everything was historically accurate. Johnson worked with Father Jonah of the local church to find out what would be appropriate to publicly display in the museum.
Eventually, a meeting was set up between the museum staff and the council at the church to determine what could be used in the exhibit that would also be historically appropriate.
Sharon Svarny-Livingston was at the private showing when the parish received, as a part of the exhibit, a recording of a choir performing in 1954-55. Members of the choir had requested to be recorded so they could listen to themselves, and the tapes were saved.
The music was originally in the possession of Sam and Gert Svarny. It was rerecorded by the University of Alaska onto a CD from the source tape.
“They were able to view the show with that ambiance in the background. They were thrilled with the show, as well as the new bishop,” Svarny-Livingston said.
June 4 was the holiday of the Holy Ascension, and Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco was able to visit the exhibit at the museum before leaving Unalaska.
“This was a way the museum could partner with the church council and give a gift to the parish. We didn’t want them to work very hard or put any money to the exhibit,” Svarny-Livingston said.
Κυριακή των Μυροφόρων ήτοι ή γ΄από του πάσχα - Mετά από κάθε μεγάλη εορτή η Εκκλησία μας συνηθίζει να μας καλεί σε εορταστική σύναξη για να τιμήσουμε τους δευτεραγωνιστές του δράματος και του ιερού γε...
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