Artifact of the Month - Cash Register

By Richard Estelle, PMHA Collections Manager

The new computerized cash register in our Museum & Visitor Center Store may be able to do everything but make hot coffee, but it comes up way short of the old register in our collection for “fancy”.  While our research continues into the history of this old machine, we do know that it was made by the National Cash Register Machine Company of Dayton, Ohio sometime in early 1916.  Its ornate drums housing paper rolls may indicate it was built specifically for government offices requiring extraordinary documentation of transactions, rather than simply making change.  In fact, we believe this particular machine did service through the 1950’s and ‘60’s in the office of Palmer’s Magistrate, Dorothy Saxton.  It has setting tabs marked “TITLES”, “RECORDING”, “PAS PLATES”, & “TRK PLATES”, indicating that automobile licensing may have been an important part of the magistrate’s job. 

Even though a hand crank activates some of the register functions, there’s also an electric motor integrated into the back to operate some things as well.   

A total of at least seven locks control access to the machine’s various compartments.  Most of the locks have an embossed number beside them corresponding to the proper numbered key that operates them.  We have some of those keys, but, of course, not the key of most interest--the one that will open the long-locked cash drawer.  Don’t you just wonder what might be in that old cash drawer?

Cash Register 2.jpg
Cash Register 1.jpg

Palmer Museum Awarded 2016 GIA for Exhibit Redesign

Thanks to the generosity of the Alaska State Museum, the Palmer Museum will be able to move forward with its plans to have a schematic design created to update the Museum's permanent collections display.  The Museum was notified late last month that it was awarded a Grant-In-Aid in the amount of $8,840 which would allow the Museum to bring two designers from the exhibit design and fabrication company, ExhibitsAK,  in Juneau.  The project, which was developed through a partnership with the Dorothy Page Museum in Wasilla, will allow both institutions to receive the much needed technical support that is required to update both of their facilities.  The designers will spend two days with each museum's staff and selected members of their respected communities in November, to brainstorm and discuss ideas for renovated exhibit spaces.  The designers will then compile the information and use it to create a design schematic for each museum that willbe used during the Palmer Museum's second phase of fabrication and construction which the Museum hopes to begin in 2017. 

Channel 11 News Learns More about the Museum's Historical Photograph Open House

The Palmer Museum recently had a visit from Shannon Ballard of the Channel 11 News team to learn more about the the museum's upcoming Historical Photograph Open House taking place on Sunday, September 18th, from 10:00AM to 3:00PM at the Palmer Depot.  We also had an opportunity to discuss with her about the PMHA Image Access Project and our plans to develop an historical photograph web-site that would allow various organizations from the Mat-Su Valley communities to share their images with the public on one web-site.

Click here to view news footage.

Four Contemporary Works to go on loan to the Rasmuson Foundation

A few months ago, the Palmer Museum was contacted by a Graduate Fellow at the Rasmuson Foundation in regards to their Office Art Program.  Initially, the inquiry was about a possible loan of two of the Palmer Museum's Contemporary Art pieces.  However, after a two month long review, the Museum just received notification that the Foundation would like to acquire not two but rather, four pieces from the Collection for an 18 month loan in which the pieces would be on display at the Foundation's headquarters located in the Wells Fargo Building in Anchorage.  The Palmer Museum is elated to have pieces from the Collection to be recognized in such a manner and will be delivering them to the Foundation on May 23rd.  Those art works that will be on loan include:

"Beets" by Diane Meekin

"Snow Geese and Mt. Palmer" by Greg Gusse

"Cannibal Spirit" by Benjamin Schleifman

"Palmer Farm" by Douglas Girard

As a means of giving the art works a brief send-off and to provide an opportunity for our Valley residents to get one final close up before they depart, the Museum will have them on display during its Annual Celebration and Palmer Midsummer Garden and Art Faire Preview Night on Saturday, May 21st from 7:00 - 9:00PM.  The loan will be the second time within the last year that pieces from the Palmer Museum's Contemporary Art Collection have been publicly recognized.  The first, being Gail Niebrugge's "Musk Ox' which is currently a part of the Anchorage Museum'sLiving Alaska traveling exhibition.

Palmer Museum Art Work to Tour Alaska

"For more than a decade, the Rasmuson Foundation has been giving annual grants to Alaska’s museums to acquire contemporary art. This unique program has allowed museums throughout the state, to purposefully build their collections. In its first ten years, the Rasmuson Art Acquisition Fund distributed 173 grants to 33 museums to purchase works by 436 artists.

Living Alaska shares the far-reaching impacts of the fund and a sample of the artwork it has preserved for the public. Curated by Sven Haakanson, Jr. and designed by the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, the exhibition contains 25 pieces loaned from 12 different museums."  - Anchorage Museum web-site:

Among the works included in the exhibit is one piece that was selected from the Palmer Museum's own Contemporary Art Collection, Gail Niebrugge's pen and ink drawing entitled "Musk Ox." The Palmer Museum is honored to have been one of the 12 museums selected to participate in this exciting endeavor and looks forward to sharing Gail's work with outside communities.  The exhibit will be on display at the Anchorage Museum through February 7, 2016, and will then be touring various museums throughout the state.