Jonaitis, returned to Fairbanks museum, takes Paris break

Art Snob Blog

Back to the cold

I was caught off guard by a press release from the University of Alaska Museum of the North that quoted “museum director Aldona Jonaitis.” 

Jonaitis, who ran the museum for 18 years, had retired three years ago, last I looked, and was spending her time researching publishing a fascinating array of books having something to do with totem poles. She was replaced by Carol Diebel, a Californian working at a museum in New Zealand. 

Diebel, I found out, left Fairbanks at the end of the year to take the post of senior vice president of public programs at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu — the one in Hawaii, not the Alaska Railroad whistle-stop. 

Jonaitis stepped back in as interim director because, as she told fans, “I love this museum.”

When I called to speak with her I was told she was in Paris for April. “A preexisting commitment,” museum staff said. As if April in Paris isn’t enough of a reason. 

The news from the press release, by the way, is that the museum has discounted ticket prices for Alaskans. Admission for Alaskans age 15 and older is $8; $5 for youngsters between ages 1 and 14. Rates apply to active military stationed in Alaska and their families.