University of Alaska Museum of the North Awarded Major Grant for Conservation Work on Bus 142
FAIRBANKS, AK – A grant of $500,000 has been awarded to the University of Alaska
Museum of the North to complete the necessary conservation work to prepare Bus 142
for its permanent public exhibit. The funds were awarded from the Institute of Museum
and Library Services as part of the “Save America’s Treasures” grant. The extensive
work will begin soon, and will meet curation standards and grant requirements to
improve the safety of the bus and its many visitors.
“Conservation treatment is an essential step in the process of preparing museum objects
for long-term exhibition,” said Patrick Druckenmiller, museum director. “This work must
be done before the bus is ready for exterior exhibition.”
For more than two years, Friends of Bus 142 has worked closely with the museum to
ensure that the legacy of the bus is protected and preserved for future generations.
FOB142 is the nonprofit organization that functions as the official news and fundraising
home base for the Into the Wild global community. FOB142 members also volunteer as
participants on the UAMN 25-member Interpretive Advisory Team. This team has been
paramount in securing the location of the outdoor exhibit that has now been officially
approved, and is currently scheduled to be open to the public by summer 2024. This
projection is dependent on further funding for the road to exhibition, to include
“Preserving historic automotive artifacts requires a specialized set of skills,” UAMN
ethnology & history senior collections manager, Angela Linn, explained, “Since acquiring
Bus 142, museum staff have been diligently cataloging, researching, and preparing for
this undertaking. This included comprehensive consultations with professional
conservators who have over thirty years of experience in the field.”
Bus 142, a 1946 International Harvester K-5, sat along the Stampede Trail near Denali
National Park and Preserve for decades. Museum staff and student employees will work
with the conservators, B.R. Howard and Associates, to mitigate damage to the bus
caused by vandalism, weather conditions, and biological growths. In part, these
conservation efforts will include: structural repairs, restorative cleaning and application of
protective coatings to prevent further metal deterioration, the careful repairing of paint in
critical areas, the replacement of window glass and other components, the reinstallation
of large open sections of roof and floor created during removal from Stampede Trail, and
preservation of graffiti and epitaphs left behind by both temporary residents and visitors
of Bus 142 since the 1960s.
The upcoming conservation work will be visible from the glass walled observation areas
where the bus currently resides; in the ConocoPhillips Alaska High Bay Lab at the
Joseph E. Usibelli Engineering Learning and Innovation Building on the UAF campus. In
person observation is from 8:00am-8:00pm Monday – Friday, and a live stream webcam
also provides opportunities for those located outside of Fairbanks, AK, to follow in real
time. Updates will be consistently shared by UAMN and their partner in the road to
exhibition, Friends of Bus 142.
Bus 142 is owned by the state of Alaska and held by UAMN under a curation agreement
that directs it to care for the bus in perpetuity and to provide free access to the public.
To read the letter that Friends of Bus 142 submitted as part of the museum’s grant application, click here.