Russian Orthodox museum forced to close

An Anchorage museum plans to close its doors at the end of this summer. The Russian Orthodox Museum, located at 6th Avenue and A Street downtown, houses Alaska artwork dating back more than a century.Many of the artifacts were handmade in the state, and others were brought over from Russia. Most of the texts and artwork date back to the 1890s; some go back two centuries. The small treasures will be returned to the churches that donated them.But along with the history on display, the museum also has a history of financial trouble.The museum isn't making money and relies on the diocese to make the mortgage. Nearby museums send tourists over to their neighbor, but it's not enough.High utility rates and a slow tourist season are forcing its closure."But from a financial standpoint, it's like well, yeah it has to be done," said Rev. Mikel Bock, who oversees the museum. "Because it's a drain on the diocese and the diocese, just like anyone else, is hurting because of the financial stuff."The guestbook shows the thousands of people who've learned about the long history of the church in Alaska, but there are fewer tourists this year, meaning, of course, fewer names in the book.The museum will close at the end of August. The hope is to bring in as much as possible from the tourist season.The church is currently trying to sell the building.