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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.

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.

Application Details

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 CuratorsFellowship@mohai.org.

Previous Fellows

2022: Brittney Frantece

A greyscale image of 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.

In 2022, she researched and analyzed photographs in MOHAI’s Al Smith Collection for how they demonstrate Black world building during the mid-20th century in the Pacific Northwest.

2022 Curators Fellowship Workshop

Learn more about how she uses Black ecstatic reading practices in relation to the Al Smith Collection in her 2022 Curators Fellowship Workshop.

Further Reading

Read her analysis of five photographs in our online collection.

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

  • Exploring the collection of Chinese Theatrical Costumes donated by Lillian Goon Dip.
  • Centering Native perspectives in artifacts that appropriate Native art, ideas, or people. Possible examples could be imagery and souvenirs from the Golden Potlatch, or the use of the image of Kikisoblu (Princess Angeline) on Seattle souvenirs.
  • 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?
  • Exploring an aspect of gay Seattle history through one of the following collections: Mark Dempsey (theater and music including western costumes), John Doyle Bishop (fashion), Ric Weiland (early Microsoft history and party costumes), Richard Bennett (20th century art), John Eaton (millinery).
  • Exploring the iconography and souvenirs of one of Seattle’s two World’s Fairs- the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition or the 1962 Century 21 Exposition
  • Researching the artifacts in the Sagamiya Bakery collection, which includes over 100 items.
  • Researching the complicated history of the Japanese Boy’s Day and Girl’s Day sets that were given to Bailey Gatzert elementary school at the time of Japanese incarceration in WWII. Research could cover the circumstances around the “donation” or details around the dolls themselves such as the figures they represent and their manufacture. A selection is viewable online but the full collection is about 100 items.
  • Exploring MOHAI’s collection of Indigenous materials, most of which was made for tourists and for trade.

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 the MOHAI 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 MOHAI collections.

MOHAI Library Collections

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

Library

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 the MOHAI 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 MOHAI collections.

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