The museum presents artifacts from the area's Russian past in an 1808 structure built to warehouse sea-otter pelts. On display are samovars, intricate Native basketry, and other relics from the early Native Koniags and the later Russian settlers. Albums of archival photography portray various aspects of the island's history. In the early 1800s, the museum's namesake, Alexander Baranov, was the chief manager for the fur-trading Russian-American Company. Baranov commissioned the building that now houses the museum, which W.J. Erskine, who owned a big cod fishery, made his home in 1911.