08 Calendar

Public Historian

Title: Public Historian

Location: Offsite using own equipment, with meetings at MOHAI

Status: 1099 Vendor/Contractor; Temporary (April through December 2020)

Schedule: Variable; A total of about 350-450 hours expected.

Contract rate: $50.00 per hour


The Public Historian for this project serves as the chief historical advisor through the development of a scope of work and collecting initiative for a reimagined core exhibit, True Northwest: The Seattle Journey (referred to as True Northwest 2.0). This role comes on board as MOHAI completes a two-year effort to evaluate True Northwest in order to determine what updates to the exhibit should be made. This is a federal grant-funded position, which will work closely with an interdepartmental team.

The meetings will take place primarily at MOHAI in South Lake Union, however this individual will also attend occasional meetings at the MOHAI Resource Center in Georgetown.

This is a limited term opportunity, anticipated to begin April 2020 and end December 2020.

Specific Responsibilities:

  • Curatorial Planning: Will provide historical guidance while working with the interdepartmental project team and museum leadership to develop an interpretive vision for True Northwest 2.0. Thoughtfully review and respond to feedback gathered over a two-year evaluation process of True Northwest through a historical lens and balance needs identified during evaluation with content (academic) needs. This part of the project will result in the scope of work for True Northwest 2.0.
  • Collecting Initiative: Work with project team and museum leadership to strategically plan a collecting initiative to support the True Northwest 2.0 interpretive vision and scope of work. Works with MOHAI staff to foster and grow community relationships in support of a collecting initiative.
  • Historian Review: Be present for a focus group of peer historians reviewing True Northwest: The Seattle Journey. This focus group is part of the formative evaluation phase of the exhibit development process.
  • Inclusive Perspective: Ensure that all interactions are culturally responsive, respectful, and based on a foundation of MOHAI’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility.

Required Qualifications and Skills:

  • At least five years of experience interpreting history for a general audience, as historian or curator, in the academic or museum field. Demonstrated success in creating, developing, and executing exhibits and collecting policies is preferred. Experience crafting narratives in partnership with communities traditionally under-represented in the historical narrative is preferred.
  • History-focused Master of Arts with demonstrated writing and communication skills.
  • Has knowledge of and relationships with regional community members and brings this expertise to conversations about interpretive vision and the collecting initiative.
  • Provide dynamic, innovative, and creative input on the development of an integrated curatorial vision for an exhibit that effectively serves the residents of the region.
  • Experience with current best practices in museums and responding to evaluation data is essential.
  • Experience with uses of technology in informal learning environments is preferred.
  • Sensitive to the needs of MOHAI’s many constituents, from school groups, to visitors, to the community at large.
  • Bring an academic- and research-based expertise in Pacific Northwest history, with a clear understanding of how history connects to today.
  • Demonstrate the highest level of integrity and ethical practices in all affairs.
  • Able to work well within collaborative team environments and respect others’ expertise and point of view.
  • Enthusiasm for MOHAI’s exhibits, programs, and mission.

Museum Vision, Mission, and Overview:

MOHAI is treasured locally and respected nationally as a vibrant resource where history inspires us to be our best, individually and collectively. By collecting and preserving artifacts and stories of our diverse history, MOHAI highlights our regional tradition of innovation and imagination. Through compelling exhibits, scholarship, education, public programs, and community engagement, MOHAI bridges the past, present, and future. MOHAI is a place and a community of people with histories of successes and failures that: bind us together; amuse, disturb, and inspire us; inform and guide us; and deepen our connection with our heritage. For more than 60 years, MOHAI has been dedicated to enriching lives by preserving, sharing, and teaching the diverse history of Seattle, the Puget Sound region and the nation. 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 a Resource Center in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. MOHAI also hosts the Bezos Center for Innovation, focusing on the history and future of innovation in the Puget Sound region.

MOHAI is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and is an official affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For more information, please visit

To Apply (no phone calls, please):

E-mail a letter of interest, resume, and three professional references to:

MOHAI is a 501(C)3 Organization and an Equal Opportunity Employer. We are committed to inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility and building a diverse staff. We encourage candidates of color to apply.


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