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Chief of Exhibits and Interpretive Services

The Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) is seeking a vibrant individual to serve as Chief of Exhibits and Interpretive Services (CEIS) to lead the museum in the development of its current exhibits and programs and drive momentum for the museum’s future growth. The CEIS will have the exciting opportunity to refresh and reimagine MOHAI’s award-winning core exhibits over the next few years and develop a long-term pipeline of interpretive programs, bringing a lens of inclusion and equity as well as an openness to new technology and imaginative new ways of sharing history with the community.

This is an extraordinary opportunity for a visionary, energetic and experienced museum professional to lead the reimagining of two award-winning exhibits. The CEIS would be building on a strong platform of excellence, working with a committed in-house team, able to engage topflight professional consultants, and working with a project budget of up to $25 million — including support from some of Seattle’s leading philanthropists. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to explore how history is shared in a community that is focused on the future. These initiatives will represent a major expansion of how the museum serves the community through its exhibits and interpretive programs.

About The Museum of History & Industry

MOHAI, a museum tracing the history of an innovative city and particularly its 20th century evolution, is treasured locally and respected nationally as a vibrant resource where history inspires people to be their best. Through compelling exhibits, scholarship, education, public programs, and community engagement, MOHAI bridges the past, present, and future. Learn more about what makes Seattle special.

Founded in 1911, MOHAI has been dedicated to enriching lives by exploring, preserving, and sharing the diverse history of Seattle, the Puget Sound region, and the nation. In 2012, MOHAI moved to its current location in a restored landmark Naval Reserve Armory in Lake Union Park, attracting 150,000 visitors annually. The primary audience is Seattle area residents and families, K-12 students, and visitors to Seattle from across the country and around the world. With a collection of nearly 4 million artifacts, photographs, oral histories and archival items, and an expansive schedule of exhibits and programs, MOHAI is the region’s premier history center.

MOHAI operates a dramatic and award-winning museum in Lake Union Park in Seattle’s vibrant South Lake Union neighborhood and the McQuaid Resource Center in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, where it houses its collections, research library, exhibits workshop, and some administrative offices. Its exhibition spaces total 30,000 square feet, and its annual operating budget is about $6 million. In addition to its core Seattle history exhibit (True Northwest: The Seattle Journey), the Walker Gallery for temporary exhibits, a community gallery, and a maritime gallery, MOHAI also hosts the Bezos Center for Innovation, an exhibit area that focuses on the history and future of innovation in the Puget Sound region. MOHAI is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For more information, please visit the MOHAI website.

MOHAI Atrium - Opening Day

Overview of Qualifications and Job Responsibilities

The Chief of Exhibits and Interpretive Services is the lead curatorial, creative, and administrative director of MOHAI’s exhibits and programs department, responsible for the development and execution of an integrated strategy for interpretive content, experiences, and program initiatives. The position serves as the chief creative director of the Museum’s key interpretive projects, including the large-scale reimagining of its core exhibits to be undertaken over the next few years. This position is a member of the MOHAI executive and extended leadership teams.

Primary Responsibilities

MOHAI seeks a Chief of Exhibits and Interpretive Services who is an energetic, innovative, and collaborative leader who will inspire, guide, and support the work of the Executive Director, Board, and staff to fulfill the promise of the mission and vision of the organization. The CEIS will work with museum leadership and the department team to lead the development and implementation of an integrated interpretive plan for MOHAI’s exhibits and public programs that effectively serves the residents of the region and addresses the goals of the museum’s strategic plan. Working with the department, other curatorial staff, and external design/build teams, the CEIS will lead overall development of MOHAI interpretive initiatives, including revisions to its core exhibits (True Northwest and Bezos Center for Innovation). In addition, they will provide strategic direction for MOHAI-produced exhibits and traveling exhibits and provide oversight for a series of related public programs, temporary displays, and other interpretive experiences.

The CEIS will ensure that exhibits and programs represent the story of the region in an equitable, inclusive, accessible, and imaginative way by including partnerships that empower communities to share their own stories and provide narratives that examine the roots and impacts of racism and other forms of historic marginalization. All interactions with communities will be culturally responsive, respectful, and based on a foundation of MOHAI’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA). The CEIS will also serve on the museum’s IDEA committees.

Team leadership is a very important role, and the CEIS will provide executive leadership to a team of museum professionals in the areas of exhibits and public programs, including five direct reports, while advancing museum best practices in interpretive services, audience research, and the uses of technology to achieve the Museum’s mission. The CEIS will develop and oversee the Interpretive Services’ operating, personnel, and capital budgets. It will be important for the CEIS to demonstrate a willingness to learn about local history and culture and the landscape of other cultural organizations in the region.

True Northwest Exhibit Visitors

True Northwest High Hopes Exhibit

Community Ethos

The Chief of Exhibits and Interpretive Services will be comfortable with community involvement and demonstrate a commitment to community-building among all stakeholders. The CEIS will represent MOHAI in the community, including engaging and forming partnerships with community members, working closely with area and regional civic and cultural organizations, communicating with regional and national media, and partnering with other museum stakeholders as appropriate.

The CEIS will guide, collaborate with, support, and motivate staff in the development of museum exhibits and public programs that engage community groups, especially communities of color, and attend community and museum-sponsored events. Using MOHAI’s Racial Equity Workplan, exhibits will be developed that represent the story of the region in an inclusive and equitable way, providing space and partnerships for communities to share their own stories.

Required Qualifications

  • Minimum of five years of senior curatorial experience at a history museum or equivalent facility, including knowledge of museum interpretive-services management.
  • Master of Arts in history, museum studies, design or a related field or any equivalent combination of experience and/or education from which comparable knowledge, skills and abilities have been achieved.
  • Strong design experience with proven track record in exhibit concept development and curation.
  • Familiarity with primary source and artifact-based interpretive methods.
  • Hands-on experience successfully leading, managing, and growing a diverse professional staff.
  • Substantial experience in effectively managing budgets and demonstrated success in completing complex long-term projects.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills. Collegial and able to communicate clearly, concisely, and diplomatically to a wide range of people.
  • Bilingual and multilingual skills valued.
  • Enthusiasm to quickly learn about MOHAI exhibits, programs, and mission.

Compensation and Benefits

  • The annual salary range is between $125,000 – $150,000 plus generous benefits:
  • Employer paid medical, dental, vision and life insurance
  • Participation in a 403(b) savings plan
  • Three weeks’ vacation, ten holidays plus two floating holidays per year
  • Sick time, per Seattle’s Paid Sick & Safe Time (PSST) Ordinance
  • Travel and professional development budget included

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility

MOHAI is a 501(c)(3) organization and an Equal Opportunity Employer. It is committed to building a team and an organizational culture that fosters inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. MOHAI encourages candidates of color to apply.

COVID NOTE: Full vaccination is required for all employees.

How to Apply

Apply in confidence: Email cover letter, resumé or CV, salary requirement and names of at least three references and your professional relationship, with contact information, by October 21, 2022, to: Ida Tomlin, Senior Search Consultant, Museum Search & Reference at: References will not be contacted without prior permission of the applicant. Nominations are welcome.

Seattle with Mt Rainier in Background

Credit: Thom Milkovic

About Seattle, Washington

Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., attracting thousands of residents yearly due to its beauty, jobs, and high quality of life. Located on Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is surrounded by water, mountains and evergreen forests and contains thousands of acres of parkland. It is the 11th largest metropolitan economy in the United States, with Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, Costco, Starbucks, Paccar, Weyerhaeuser, Expedia, and Alaska Airlines headquartered in the area. Seattle’s most iconic landmark is the futuristic Space Needle, a 1962 World’s Fair legacy, and the city is known for its restaurants, important museums and as a center for glass artists, particularly Dale Chihuly. Seattle is located about 100 miles south of the Canadian border, 3 hours from Vancouver, BC and Portland, OR. The Port of Seattle, which also operates Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (SEA), is a major gateway for trade with Asia and cruises to Alaska. Sound Transit’s Link light rail covers the city, including downtown and SEA Airport, which can be reached in about 40 minutes by train from downtown. More information can be found at Visit Seattle.

For sports fans, the area is home to the NFL team Seattle Seahawks, MLB team Seattle Mariners, the WNBA Seattle Storm, and NHL team Seattle Kraken. Along with its professional sports, Seattle also provides a variety of collegiate sports at the University of Washington, Seattle University, and Washington State University.

Seattle has a significant musical history. Between 1918 and 1951, nearly two dozen jazz night clubs existed along Jackson Street, from the current Chinatown/International District to the Central District. The jazz scene nurtured the early careers of Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Ernestine Anderson, and others. Seattle is also the birthplace of rock musician Jimi Hendrix as well as the origin of many bands and musicians such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Heart, Macklemore, Sir Mix-a-Lot, Shabazz Palaces, Death Cab for Cutie, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and Brandi Carlile.

Seattle is home to more than 80 theater companies, captivating audiences with new works and classic favorites in on-stage productions, such as Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Paramount Theatre, which features Broadway shows, or The 5th Avenue Theatre for world premier stage productions. If cirque or cabaret is more your style, the unique Teatro ZinZanni is the place.

According to the 2020 census, the total population of Seattle was 737,000, with 59.5% of the population White, 16.9% Asian, 8.2% Hispanic or Latino, 6.8% Black or African American, and 8.6% who self-identified as other or two or more races.

The MOHAI armory, white with blue accents, set against a clear blue sky

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