Arctic exhibit opens at Museum of Natural and Cultural History

Pam Endzweig and Jensen Arctic Museum curator Roben Itchoak."Highlights of the Jensen Arctic Collection," an exhibition that offers to take visitors to the University of Oregon campus on a journey into the unique cultures and ecosystems of the Arctic region, opens Friday, May 9, at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History (MNCH).

The exhibition opens at 11:00 a.m. at the museum, 1680 E. 15th Ave. It features a variety of cultural materials, including a gutskin parka and baleen baskets from Alaska, boots from across the Arctic and a selection of masks. Taxidermy specimens will provide a close-up view of Arctic animals such as snowy owls, arctic foxes, a wolf and a young Kodiak bear.

Kodiak bear in the Highlights of the Jensen Arctic CollectionVisitors to the new exhibition also can explore the role that Oregon museums have played in preserving and celebrating Arctic heritage. The Jensen Arctic Collection comes to the MNCH from the Paul H. Jensen Arctic Museum at Western Oregon University (WOU), where it was housed for almost 30 years until it ceased operation amid funding challenges.

As Oregon's official repository for publicly owned anthropological collections, the MNCH adopted the collection with support from both universities and the state legislature.

Paul Jensen, professor emeritus at WOU, had founded the museum in 1985 and served as its volunteer curator until his death in 1994. His collection of Alaskan artifacts formed the core of the collection, which has since expanded to include more than 5,000 items.

Arctic masks in the Jensen Collection"The Highlights exhibit will introduce our Eugene friends to this diverse collection, which represents all eight Arctic countries and demonstrates some of the major changes that have occurred in the region over the last 100 years,” said Roben Itchoak, former curator of the Jensen Arctic Museum who now works for the MNCH.

In transferring to the MNCH, the Jensen collection joins extensive Alaskan archaeological holdings acquired and researched by UO scholars beginning in the late 1940s.
"The Jensen Arctic Collection represents a significant addition to our existing collections from Alaska," said MNCH Executive Director Jon Erlandson. "Together, they make up one of the largest assemblages of Alaskan-Arctic materials in the lower 48 states."

About the Museum of Natural and Cultural History
The Museum of Natural and Cultural History is a center of interdisciplinary research and education, serving the global research community, the University of Oregon, K-12 students and educators, and the wider public in Oregon and beyond. The museum' s exhibits span 15,000 years of human history and 300 million years of environmental change. Exhibits are open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Media Contact: Kristin Strommer, UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History, 541-346-5083,

Sources: Roben Itchoak, MNCH,, and Jon Erlandson, MNCH executive director, 541-346-0662,