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Curator’s Fellowship

The Curator’s Fellowship invites community and academic historians to bring a new perspective to MOHAI’s extensive collections, and share their findings at MOHAI’s annual Curator’s Lecture.

MOHAI is proud to announce the museum’s first Curator’s Fellow!

A greyscale image of Brittney Frantece, a Black woman. She's wearing a dark button down shirt and has her septum pierced. You can see her thick curly hair, surrounding her face; it is not long enough to reach her shoulders.

Brittney Frantece

Brittney Frantece is a writer, artist, educator, curator, and PhD candidate in the English Department at the University of Washington. She curated Queer Imaginations (2021) at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery in Seattle and Juneteenth: Blackness and Freedom (2018) at The Beans Gallery in Chicago.

With MOHAI, Frantece will research and analyze photographs in MOHAI’s Al Smith Collection for how they demonstrate Black worldbuilding during the mid-20th century in the Pacific Northwest. She will also work to connect this historically significant collection to contemporary artists who are continuing the legacy of Black worldbuilding across the US.

Read the Press Release

Curator’s Fellowship

The Curator’s Fellow conducts research in MOHAI’s collections and prepares a public presentation offering new insights on MOHAI materials and Puget Sound area history. This work takes place over six months, including up to 20 hours of research in the collection. A portion of on-site research hours may be accommodated during evenings and weekends. The Fellow will receive a stipend of $5000. MOHAI prioritizes research that includes stories of historically marginalized or excluded communities, particularly Black, Indigenous, People of Color.

The museum invites applications from community and academic researchers and historians whose work focuses on the history of the Pacific Northwest. Research on topics that bring new interpretations to MOHAI’s content is particularly welcome.


Applications for 2023 will open in this space in January.

For more information about MOHAI Collection and possible research topics, visit the sections below.

If you have questions about the Curator’s Fellow application process, contact

Potential Research Topics

The following are potential research areas that draw from MOHAI’s collections. These are provided as examples, and to inspire proposals that we have not yet imagined. Feel free to draw from this list in your Curator’s Fellowship application, or to propose a topic that is not listed here.

Sample Topic Ideas for Curator Fellowship

  • Centering Native perspectives in artifacts that appropriate Native art or early photographs of Natives in Seattle. Example: the Golden Potlatch.
  • Indigenous perspectives on the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.
  • Finding untold stories from the Al Smith Collection, specifically those not featured in the 2017 exhibit Seattle on the Spot: The Photographs of Al Smith.
  • Sharing stories of Seattle’s BIPOC or specifically immigrant communities in the most recent donation of the Post-Intelligencer Collection from the 1990s and early 2000s which are still being inventoried. One example: Little Saigon feature from 1994.
  • Researching the Admiral Oriental Line, investigating the early commercial connection with Pacific Islands and East Asia.
  • Illuminating stories about Chinese contract labor. Some examples [1] [2] [3].
  • Exploring the collection of Chinese Theatrical Costumes donated by Lillian Goon Dip. The collection isn’t available online, but includes the headdress seen in this photo.
  • Revealing the history of the development of Seattle neighborhoods, particularly those south of the ship canal. Example: Rainier Valley.
  • Unearthing stories from our oral history collections.
  • Learning more about Seattle labor, by selecting a type of “made in Seattle” product in the collection and do research about the people employed in that industry or particular factory. What can we know about the hands that made these items? Example: Clothing factories [1] [2]

MOHAI Artifact Collections

Learn more about MOHAI’s collection of over 100,000 artifacts, ranging in physical size from tiny lapel pins to Boeing’s first airplane, the B-1.

Primary Collection (3-D)

The primary three-dimensional collection consists of artifacts significant to the history of Seattle and the Puget Sound region starting at the time of settlement in this area and continuing to the present. There are an estimated 100,000 objects in the 3-D Primary Collection that range in physical size from tiny lapel pins to Boeing’s first airplane, the B-1. Below is an overview of our Collections. For more details, visit our online Collections portal.


Local industry and businesses are heavily represented in the collection covering everything from logging, mining, farming, fishing, shipbuilding, aerospace, urban development, textile working, woodworking, blacksmithing, masonry, milling, biotechnology, software and internet technology, restaurant and hotel service, retail merchandising, photography, printing, banking, tailoring, barbering, butchery, cobblery, millinery, mortuary, smoking and recreational drug use, and other businesses.


Some of the local companies represented in the collection include Boeing, Microsoft, Nordstrom, Bartell Drugs, Frederick & Nelson, Lake Union Dry Dock, Moran Bros., Rainier Brewing Company, Starbucks, Amazon, Eddie Bauer, Filson, ZymoGenetics, Schwabacher, Crescent Foods, Fisher Flour, PACCAR, Wizards of the Coast, REI, Amgen (Immunex), Intellectual Ventures, Seafirst Bank, Washington Mutual, Almond Roca, and Oberto Sausage Company. There is also equipment, tools, and office furniture associated with local services such as medical care, dentistry, public works and transportation, police, fire, and other government services.


Potentially a third of the collection consists of home furnishings and everything associated with family and homelife. This includes furniture, lighting, building and plumbing elements, decorative objects, toiletry items, storage containers, food-service items, toys, games, clocks, and musical instruments.


Another third of the collection consists of clothing, textiles, and fashion accessories that were either handmade or designer-made or purchased from local retailers. This includes dresses, shirts and tops, pants, skirts, shorts, suits, uniforms, ensembles, undergarments, bathing suits, baby clothes, nightwear, coats, sweaters, outdoor wear and gear, hats, shoes, socks, ties, belts, gloves, handkerchiefs and scarves, aprons, canes, fans, parasols, purses, jewelry, watches, eyeglasses, hatpins, hair adornment, linens, quilts, samplers, flags, and other items.


Competitive local sports and recreational activities, represented by equipment and accessories, include baseball, softball, football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, golf, hockey, tennis, roller derby, bowling, frisbees, bike polo, ping pong, archery, hiking, camping, swimming, skiing, sledding, water skiing, mountain climbing, ice skating, roller skating, biking, scuba diving, horseback riding, skateboarding, and others. Some of the sports teams represented include the Rainiers, Pilots, Mariners, Seahawks, Sounders, Reign, Storm, Seattle Totems and Seattle Seahawks hockey teams, Rat City Rollergirls, the University of Washington, and local high school teams. The collection also includes items from the imploded Kingdome stadium and other arenas in the area.


MOHAI’s art collection consists of paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, etchings, carvings, hairwork, ropework, and other artwork by local artists, and feature people, places, and events of this region. Some of the artists include Kenneth Callahan, Mark Tobey, Fay Chong, Guy Anderson, Harriet Beecher, Emily Inez Denny, Jessie Elliott, Jacob Elshin, Fokko Tadama, Richard Bennett, Kathleen Houlahan, Eustace Zeigler, Doris Chase, John Grade, and glass pieces by Dale Chihuly and Preston Singletary. Works by Indigenous peoples, Native Americans and Alaskan peoples include baskets, totem poles, wooden and ivory carvings, bentwood boxes, rattles, ladles, model canoes, and more contemporary pieces by DeAnn Jacobson, Keith Stevenson, Ty Juvinel, Marvin Oliver, and others. There are also folk-art pieces made by the first European settlers in this area.


For recent MOHAI exhibits, the museum acquired several contemporary items related to Seattle Hip Hop culture, local food and agriculture, Seattle fashion, the South Asian community, and the social justice movement in Seattle.


Specific Seattle families and individuals that are more prominently represented include names such as: Denny, Boren, Terry, Low, Bell, Mercer, Foster, Maple, Chief Si’ahl (Chief Seattle), Kikisoblu (Princess Angeline), Frye, Collins, Bagley, “Doc” Maynard, Henry Yesler, Henry Van Asselt, Bill Boeing, John Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer, and others. More recently, materials have been collected from the families of Rev. Samuel B. McKinney, York and Arlene Luke, and Benjamin McAdoo.


Larger objects consist of vehicles, vessels, aircraft, bicycles, kayaks, canoes, neon signs, and industrial equipment associated with various businesses, restaurants, and local individuals.

Other collections not mentioned above include armament and weaponry, instructional models, and souvenirs.

Read more about accessing our collections, here.

MOHAI Library Collections

Explore over four million items in MOHAI’s Library Collections, including photographs, paper materials, books, and audio-visual resources.


The Sophie Frye Bass Library Collections preserve and provide access to historic photographs, archival and book collections, and audio and visual materials. The collection totals over four million items focused on Seattle and King County, with some resources covering the local interest in other parts of Washington and Alaska.  For more details, visit our online Collections portal.

Major collections include:

  • MOHAI Photography Collection contains approximately four million individual photographs spanning nearly the entire history of photography, from nineteenth-century daguerreotypes to contemporary digital images, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencernews photography collection; the King County News Corporation collection; the PEMCO Webster and Stevens Collection; the Al Smith Photograph Collection; the Anders Wilse Collection; the Edward Curtis Collection; and the Fred Milke Collection.
  • MOHAI Oral History Collection, a growing collection of more than 600 oral histories in a variety of formats, including the Experienced Leaders Collection, which documents stories from regional leaders in business and politics such as William Gates, Sr., former Washington governor Daniel J. Evans, and TheSeattle Times publisher Frank Blethen; the Rosie the Riveter Collection, which features 21 women reflecting on their experience working at the Boeing Company factory during World War II; and most recently, oral histories collected to provide greater context for the Al Smith Photography Collection, which documents Seattle’s African American community. Finding aids for all 11 oral history collection are online, and a limited number of audio files and transcripts will be accessible in MOHAI’s Online Collections.
  • MOHAI Archival Collection comprises records and papers, manuscripts, scrapbooks, ledgers, ephemera, maps, posters, newspapers, and sheet music.
  • MOHAI Library Collection of books, pamphlets, reports, and serials on Seattle, Washington, and Pacific Northwest (including Alaska) history, from the early nineteenth century to the present.
  • MOHAI Video Collection includes several hundred items covering film, magnetic media, and digital video files.

Read more about accessing our collections, here.

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