Bathhouse Links

Tenakee Museum. (C. Allred Photo January 2018)


On July 2, 2017 Tenakee celebrated the Tenakee Museum.  A longheld dream finally realized!

Museum Story

For over 30 years, Vicki Wisenbaugh nurtured a dream; one she and fellow Historical Collection founders Jane Wiess and Bob Pegues began to frame by recognizing the value of holding onto and preserving Tenakee's past. 

Fast forward to 2010. THC hired museum consultant Mary Pat Wyatt to look at our materials and help make initial decisions. Based on her recommendations, we requested assistance from the Alaska State Museum (ASM) for guidance on how best to proceed. In May 2011 Scott Carlee, Curator of Museum Services for the ASM, visited Tenakee to meet with a group of volunteers. With Scott’s help, the THC submitted a grant to ASM for a summer 2012 intern trained in proper museum policies and procedures. Our intern Kate Duffy, spent eight weeks with us. She compiled a Museum Assessment, exhbit layout suggestions and other planning documents. The Assessment now serves as THC’s primary guidance for dealing with its collection and setting museum policies and procedures.

Fast forward again. In 2017 we invited Kate Duffy to come "home" to the Grand Opening. She traveled from the east coast to share in our success and cut the ribbon at the July 2 celebration!

The grand "Grand Opening" was such a success that an annual fund raiser/silent auction in early July has, in very short order, become a tradition. 


The owners of the Snyder Mercantile complex have leased the small wood frame building west of the store to the THC for a dollar a month to house the museum. It is a small space, but being at the center of town and very close to the ferry dock has advantages. In the early 1900s the building was a cabin situated behind and uphill of the O'Toole house across from the store. It was later moved to the current site where it served as a liquor store for decades.

In 2012, the work of refurbishing the building began; in 2013 it was completed. A new roof was constructed, the exterior was repaired and the interior entirely redone. Interior walls are now drywall, while the stairs and ceiling are a combination or reused wainscot and grooved lumber. The building is well insulated and is heated geothermally via an in-floor radiant heat system. The heat comes from water that emerges from the foundation of the nearby bathhouse. Cost of heating is very minimal and the temperature is constant.  The Tenakee Museum is very likely one of very few Museums in the United States that can boast of having a very low carbon footprint!

The museum interior work took six months at a cost of $25,000. Funds  came from a combination of generous donations and membership dues that covered paid labor, materials, freight and etc. Over 250 hrs of volunteer labor helped with this work and in the preparation for the grand opening on July 2, 2017.

The link below opens a 27 min documentary on YouTube created by Carlene Allred about the project.


THC, under the long term direction of President Vicki Wisenbaugh, accumulated the collection (mostly donations) over decades. Until the Museum was finalized, the collection lived in the Wisenbaugh home and in various generously shared storage locations around town.  

Donors are too numerous to list here. But each is deeply appreciated. As part of the recent Snyder Mercantile building renovation, Guy Thornburgh donated Snyder Mercantile records going back to the early 1900s and before his death, Bob Pegues contributed materials he had collected in hopes of writing a book about the Superior Cannery.

Much of the collection is paper archives, but it also includes numerous historic domestic and non-domestic pieces representative of Tenakee's history since 1899. Of note, we have an old still used during the days of prohibition, a springboard used in logging, and collections of merchandise once available through the Mercantile  We also house a small collection of Tlingit artifacts; mainly on loan from local private land owners for display. The collection is ever increasing now that donors know there is a venue in which to showwcase Tenakee’s unique history.


Staffed by volunteer docents, the museum is open for two hours, three days a week. These hours are set to be compatible with ferry arrival and departure times. The museum is also open by request/appointment.

Tenakee Museum (C. Allred Photo January 2018)

Museum operations are presently overseen by volunteers holding the three formal "positions" listed below. Volunteers also help with cataloging collections. (And more are always welcome!).  See the JOIN/DONATE tab.

A DVD player and small flat screen TV have been purchased to showcase visual materials. A modern but antique looking radio/CD player was also purchased to play and record the dozens of 75 rpm vinyl records in the collection and other audio materials.

A small selection of gift items are available for purchase. Postcards, bookmark, coffee mugs, tote bag and the small book “Tenakee Times”.


Tenakee Museum Interior (C. Allred Photo January 2018)


Museum Staff

Director— Beret Barnes (manages operations and coordinates volunteers)

Curator/Collections Manager— Vicki Wisenbaugh (oversees the care, display and information about the objects in the collection)





Volunteer Opportunities

Email to volunteer for any of the following opportunities:

    - Aid in cataloging the museum collection
    - Clerical work, e.g. light word processing, scanning documents
    - Train to serve as a docent (welcomes and guides visitors through the museum)