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Visceral Opening Weekend Events at the Alaska State Museum

by LAM Webmaster on 2023-04-20T08:25:00-08:00 in Alaska State Museum, Events | 0 Comments

Friday, May 5
Visceral exhibit opening 4:30-7 pm
Panel discussion 6:30 pm

Saturday & Sunday, May 6-7
Bear gut workshop with Dr. Sven Haakanson, Jr.
Saturday, 10 am–4 pm (outdoors) and Sunday, 10 am–2 pm (indoors)

Juneau – Visceral: Verity, Legacy, Identity - Alaska Native Gut Knowledge and Perseverance is a group of three interrelated exhibitions co-curated by artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs that explore contemporary and historical Alaska Native issues, spotlighting gut as a conduit for Indigenous voices. The exhibit opens Friday, May 5, 4:30-7 pm. Co-curator and artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs, co-curator and conservator Dr. Ellen Carrlee, and anthropologist Dr. Sven Haakanson, Jr. will participate in a panel discussion at 6:30 pm. Haakanson will give a workshop on processing bear gut Saturday and Sunday, May 6-7 at the museum.

The exhibit trilogy

Visceral: Verity, a new exhibition of work by contemporary artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs, includes mixed-media installations that combine natural and synthetic materials and evoke questions of authentic experience, truth, abuse, transparency, and credibility. Kelliher-Combs is one of only a few artists working with marine mammal gut. (See more below.)

Visceral: Legacy expands Kelliher-Combs’s solo exhibition themes through a selection of objects from the museum’s permanent collection.

Visceral: Identity features gut parkas from across Alaska to highlight technical and historical aspects of this remarkable material in cross-cultural perspective.

The Visceral trilogy of exhibitions will be on display throughout the summer 2023 season and will include other special workshops and lectures. Visit the museum’s Exhibitions & Events page for more information.

About Sonya Kelliher-Combs

formline design with bright pink, blues, greens, and brown against dark backgroundGuest curator Sonya Kelliher-Combs is one of only a few artists working with marine mammal gut. Her mixed-media installations combine natural and synthetic materials and evoke questions of authentic experience, truth, abuse, transparency, and credibility. She brings to her art the richness of her experience growing up in Nome, her career as an internationally recognized artist, her life in Anchorage, and her insights as a person of Iñupiaq, Athabascan, and European heritage.

Image credit: Idiot Strings, Credible (detail), Sonya Kelliher-Combs 2022.

Bear Gut Workshop

Dr. Sven Haakanson, Jr. processing and inflating bear gut.

Saturday, May 6, 2023, 10 am–4 pm (outdoors)
Sunday, May 7, 2023, 10 am–2 pm (indoors)

Intestine is the natural, indigenous version of plastics like Gore-Tex and has been used for centuries to make raincoats, hats, windows, drums, sails, canteens, and more. Learn how to process bear gut at the Alaska State Museum with Dr. Sven Haakanson. In this free, all-ages program, spend the first day cleaning and scraping intestine. Gut will then soak overnight. On Sunday, test for holes, inflate, and help hang the intestine in the exhibit gallery. Drop-in participation is welcome throughout.

About Dr. Sven Haakanson

The Alaska State Museum is delighted to host Dr. Sven Haakanson, Jr., Sugpiaq scholar, curator, and artist, of the Old Harbor Alutiiq Tribe from Kodiak Island. He holds anthropology degrees from Harvard University (Ph.D. 2000, M.A. 1996) and a B.A. in English (University of Alaska Fairbanks 1992).

Dr. Haakanson is the chair of the anthropology department at the University of Washington and has been the curator of North American Anthropology at the Burke Museum since 2013.

From 2003 to 2013, he was the director of the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in Kodiak where he promoted community archaeology excavations and language revitalization efforts. In 2007, Haakanson was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for his work connecting Native people with museum collections, particularly those in France and Russia. He has served as adjunct faculty at Kodiak College and the University of Alaska Anchorage and is a former chair of the Alaska State Council on the Arts.

Haakanson has led hands-on collaborative research among indigenous experts, museum professionals, and students, including gut processing/sewing, mask making, tool fabrication, and traditional angyaq boatbuilding. He has been engaging with gut since the early 1980s, cultivating networks of relationships among people, animals, and indigenous things made from gut to promote and revitalize indigenous science and values.

This workshop is a part of a program series accompanying Visceral: Verity, Legacy, Identity - Alaska Native Gut Knowledge and Perseverance.

Visceral: Verity, Legacy, Identity
Alaska Native Gut Knowledge and Perseverance


  1. felt in or as if in the internal organs of the body
  2. characterized by or proceeding from instinct rather than intellect
  3. characterized by or dealing with coarse or base emotions


  1. the quality or state of being true or real
  2. something (such as a statement) that is true
  3. the quality or state of being truthful or honest


  1. a gift by will especially of money or personal property
  2. something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past


  1. the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another
  2. condition or character as to whom a person or what a thing is: the qualities, beliefs, etc.
  3. the state or fact of remaining the same one or ones, as under varying aspects or conditions

The Alaska State Museum hosts a spectacular permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions. For museum hours, rates, and more information, visit The museum phone number is (907) 465-2901.

A person experiencing a disability who needs accommodation for events hosted by the Alaska State Library, Archives, and Museum can contact the division’s ADA coordinator at (907) 465-2912. Please contact us a week in advance so we can make any necessary arrangements.

For more information:

Amy Phillips-Chan, PhD
Director, Alaska Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums

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