This Thursday will be the 50th Anniversary of the Good Friday Earthquake and Tsunami that devastated Kodiak in 1964. There will be many activities occurring around Kodiak this week to commemorate those historic events, including the grand opening of a new exhibit at the Baranov Museum.
Anjuli Grantham, the curator of collections and exhibits at the museum, said the exhibit will focus on the earthquake and tsunami.
“The exhibit is going to include information about how Kodiak responded to the ’64 Earthquake and Tsunami, but also other events that were taking place in Kodiak in 1964; we want to kind of give a sense of this time as being a moment of change,” she said. “Thus the title ‘Waves of Change’ and it was more than just the tsunami that impacted Kodiak that year.”
The exhibit will open this Thursday at 5:30 p.m., six minutes before the earthquake began 50 years ago. The exhibit will be on display through 2015.
As for other events commemorating the earthquake and tsunami, there will be a lecture by Patrick Saltonstall at the Alutiiq Museum on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Kodiak College will hold an opening reception of an online oral history exhibit Friday at 7 p.m., and there will be a walking tour through downtown Kodiak on Thursday at 5 p.m. put on by the Maritime Museum. There will also be the ‘Run for High Ground’ footrace on Saturday beginning at the Sun’aq Tribal Center at 9 a.m. and ending at the public library, where there will be another event to acknowledge the anniversary.
As far as the other major events that occurred that year, Grantham is speaking of the king crab fisheries boom, and the first time the Tustumena came to Kodiak, linking the town to the Alaska Marine Highway System. Another lesser known activity that was taking place in 1964 was the beginning of urban renewal in Kodiak.
“One of the misperceptions about the tsunami is that it was a natural disaster that totally destroyed downtown Kodiak and left us with what we have today. But in fact, a few days before March 27th 1964, the city council approved an urban renewal plan which was going to demolish portions of downtown Kodiak to make it suit more modern tastes,” Grantham said. “After the tsunami took place, they ramped up urban renewal and tore down massive areas of downtown that weren’t impacted by the tsunami, leveled the entire downtown, re-plotted it, and created the downtown that we have today.”
The exhibit will have interactive activities for participants to enjoy and to help them learn more about the historic event.
“And also within the exhibit there’s going to be a touch-screen kiosk; it will include some of the films that the students’ created for the ‘Waves of Change’ film intensive. Also, there’s going to be a link to the Kodiak college’s oral history exhibit that they’re putting on, and then we’ll have some other information and photos that people can flip through showing Kodiak in 1964, so there’ll be opportunities to kind of get deeper information through video and through these oral histories within the exhibit too. ”