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Elmer Rasmuson: A Life of Service

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"Our involvement in the museum has been one of the most stimulating enterprises in which we have been privileged to participate" (Cole and Rasmuson, Vol. 2, 148).

Libraries and educational pursuits were important to Elmer Rasmuson, and he gave generously to these enterprises. The founding of the Anchorage Museum of History and Art was one of Rasmuson's greatest achievements during his term as mayor of Anchorage. Mary Louise and Elmer provided the bulk of the construction costs and encouraged other leading citizens to give as much as they could. The ground-breaking took place in 1967.

The Rasmusons remained very involved with the museum over the years. Mary Louise chaired the first advisory committee of the Historical and Fine Arts Commission. In 1989 she became the chair of the Museum Foundation Board. On the occasion of his 90th birthday, Elmer Rasmuson made the largest philanthropic gifts in Alaska history when he gave the Anchorage Museum Foundation fifty million dollars and the Rasmuson Foundation forty million dollars. In 2000, both EER and Mary Louise received the American Association of Museums Medal for Distinguished Philanthropy in appreciation of their dedicated service to the Anchorage Museum of History and Art.

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