Exhibition Designer

Company Name: 

Washington State Historical Society

Address: 

1911 Pacific Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98402

Contact Name: 

Kathy Tarli

Phone: 

253.798.5901

Email: 

ktarli@wshs.wa.gov

Job Description: 

The Washington State Historical Society has an exciting opportunity to join our exhibitions and design team as the Washington State History Museum’s in-house Exhibition Designer! 
 
This recruitment is open until filled. The hiring manager reserves the right to make a hiring decision at any time. It is in your best interest to apply as early as possible.
 
The Opportunity: 
Exhibitions are the principal mode of interpretation within the Agency's museum. The mission of WSHS places high value on quality audience engagement of which exceptional exhibitry is a key component. The Exhibition Designer and Project Manager designs unique temporary exhibits and manages their installation as well as facilitating the layout and installation of traveling rented exhibitions and the maintenance and revision of long-term permanent exhibits in the museum’s Great Hall of Washington History.  
 
A little about us:
Founded in 1891 and now into its second century of service, the Washington State Historical Society is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and vividly presenting Washington’s rich and storied history. The Historical Society offers a variety of services to researchers, historians, scholars, and lifelong learners, as well as operating the State History Research Center and the Washington State History Museum.
     
Our mission is to partner with our communities to explore how history connects us all. Our vision is to be the recognized destination for Washington State history. We will achieve this by serving as our state's primary history educator, making history relevant to our modern lives, and supporting civic dialog where all are welcome.
   
The Washington State Historical Society is a dynamic place to work, with a dedicated staff continuously expanding our impact, by connecting with communities across the Evergreen State through exhibitions, heritage projects, workshops, public programs, publications, conversations, research, and educational resources. Our goal is to bring history into focus in such a way that the reader, visitor, or participant cannot help but feel deeply connected to the people and events of the past and see how the present will inform the future.
   
We have a strong commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility and are looking for team members who have a passion for professionalism and serving the public, and a desire to contribute to a positive work culture.
   
Why work for the Society? 
At WSHS, you will join a team of talented and committed professionals who work on projects that are incredibly rewarding and invigorating. You will work collaboratively with WSHS staff across departments and support the WSHS mission through your efforts. PLUS, working for the State of Washington provides for many great benefits.

  • Ability to contribute to community conversations and engage in creative pursuits
  • Work/life balance    
  • Exposure to a diverse array of programs, traveling exhibitions, and cultural experiences    
  • Workplace in the museum district of downtown Tacoma   
  • Subsidized parking (to include personal weekend fun)    
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness Eligibility
  • A comprehensive benefit package that includes significant employer contributions toward health insurance, paid holidays, retirement plans, sick leave and vacation days. Visit http://careers.wa.gov.benefits.html for more information

Position Overview:
The Exhibition Designer at the Washington State Historical Society/Washington State History Museum reports to and collaborates with the Society’s Lead Exhibitions Curator and works closely with the Head of the Department of Audience Engagement, the Director of Exhibitions & Programs, to develop unique design approaches that support the interpretation of exhibition content and the overall visitor experience and engagement.

 

DUTIES:

Temporary Exhibits 
Exhibition design using selected CAD programs to produce scaled floor plans, elevations, perspective views, 3D modeling, and sketches that include case layouts and graphic elements placement as a part of exhibition planning. Works closely with Director of Exhibitions & Programs to develop unique design approaches to the museum’s temporary exhibition program. Presents draft designs at exhibitions team meetings. Works with Director of Exhibitions & Programs, as well as Lead Exhibitions Curator to develop the “Big Idea,” or conceptual design approach, as well as graphic look and feel, of temporary exhibitions. Also works to develop smaller upgrades and updates to permanent exhibitions, as needed, as well as reviewing and contributing to larger permanent exhibition renovation related to the Society’s interpretive master plan. Works with other members of Audience Engagement Department/WSHM staff on graphic design to support Audience Engagement programs/projects. Works with Director of Exhibitions & Programs, Lead Exhibitions Curator, and WSHS Registrar on selection and presentation of artifacts for exhibitry, taking in to account programming considerations as they relate to design. Use graphic design skills to design and produce/oversee in-house or outsourced production of all supporting graphic materials (exhibition didactics, panels, labels, vinyl text, and printed murals).
 
Installation work Supervise/direct/support exhibitions staff and contractors regarding exhibition installation, including exhibition mounts, placement/hanging of exhibition objects/artifacts safely and securely using collection management standards and museum best practices. Work alongside exhibitions staff for exhibitions/artifact installation as needed.
 
Artifact handling work with the Society’s Registrar and WSHM Preparator to pack, unpack, move, and transport artifacts using collections management standards and museum best practices for exhibition installations and de-installations. Leads installation/deinstallation teams and manage contractor preparators. Coordinates with Registrar regarding logistics and scheduling. Manages deliveries and pick-ups when necessary. Trains interns and others in installation techniques.
 
Project management including coordination of and communication with staff and contractors regarding assigned tasks and deadlines; scheduling of contractors, tasks, events; supervision of gallery prep, fabrication, and installation contractors. Communicates with WSHS staff and staff of other institutions regarding arrival of guest curators and logistics of loading, shipping/receiving, movement, replacement, storing and installation/de-installation of objects and artifacts. Works closely with curators to determine treatment of content, graphic look and feel, and visitor experience in exhibition galleries when assigned. Trains staff on museum/exhibitions best practices as necessary to support installation and de-installation efforts. Monitors progress on multiple exhibition projects. Communicates with exhibition loan companies to facilitate installation plans/exhibition installation and compliance with loan contracts.

Gallery preparation and repair Supervise/direct/support exhibitions staff (Preparator & IT Specialist) for fabrication; placement of exhibition components and gallery furniture; securing, patching, and painting of walls in temporary gallery spaces; troubleshooting A/V, digital media, electronics, and lighting.  
 
Permanent Exhibits 
Exhibition design using CAD programs to produce floor plans, elevations, 3D modeling, perspective views, and sketches including case layouts. Presents draft designs at exhibit team meetings. Works with Director of Exhibitions & Programs and Lead Exhibitions Curator in developing approaches to design, fabrication, and production. Designs, produces, or facilitates production/fabrication of graphic and/or other exhibition materials.
 
Installation work Supervise/direct/support exhibitions staff regarding some exhibition fabrication and installation, including exhibition mounts, placement/hanging of exhibition objects/artifacts safely and securely using collection management standards and museum best practices. Work alongside exhibitions staff for exhibitions/artifact installation as needed. Supervise contractors working on installation/de-installation.
 
Artifact handling including packing, movement, and transportation of artifacts using collections management standards. Coordinates with Registrar regarding logistics and scheduling.
 
Project Management including communication with staff and contractors regarding assigned tasks and deadlines; scheduling of contractors, tasks, events, supervision of gallery prep, fabrication and installation contractors. Communicates with WSHS staff and staff of other institutions regarding shipping/receiving, movement, replacement, storing, and installation/de-installation of objects and artifacts. Works closely with curators to determine content of exhibition when assigned. Trains staff on exhibitry best practices as necessary to support install and de-install efforts. Monitors progress of multiple exhibition projects.
 
Gallery preparation and repair Supervise/direct/support exhibitions staff (Preparator & IT Specialist) for fabrication; placement of exhibition components and gallery furniture; for any necessary updates of exhibition text or gallery furniture/design in permanent gallery spaces; troubleshooting electronics and lighting.
 
Renovations/Upgrades Works with Director of Exhibitions & Programs, Lead Exhibits Curator, and contractors (design and fabrication) for the review of outside consultants’ design and construction drawings, in addition to installation of some permanent exhibition galleries' upgrades/renovations.  

Traveling Exhibitions 
Manage traveling exhibitions rentals, including the facilitation of transit/shipping via the Society’s Collections Registrar, receiving, installation teams, compliance with standards and stipulations in exhibition rental contracts, troubleshooting, and layout of rented exhibition for WSHM exhibition galleries. Monitor compliance with exhibition loan contract regarding logistics. Supervise/direct/support exhibitions staff (Preparator & IT Specialist) for  placement, securing, patching and painting of walls in temporary gallery spaces; troubleshooting electronics and lighting.
 
Staff management and monitoring effective use of human resources and budgetary resources in regards to exhibitions program development, delivery, and evaluation. 
Supervise, direct, and support exhibitions staff in line with their position and classification (Preparator and IT Specialist). Monitor how staff time is allocated to exhibit design, development, fabrication, and maintenance and/or staffing assignment changes as necessary in line with achieving institutional goals. Track expenditures as related to job responsibilities and corresponding budgets. Work with Lead Exhibitions Curator and other exhibitions staff to develop detailed individual exhibition(s) budgets/track expenses. Work with staff to determine and facilitate proper training and or development opportunities, as appropriate.

 

QUALIFICATIONS:

Required Qualifications:   

  • Bachelor's degree or commensurate experience in the field of architecture, design, museology, art, art history, history, or other relevant field.    
  • At least 5 years of experience working in a museum setting or contracting in a related field.  
  • Ability to operate tools/equipment such as drills, table saws, nail guns, matt cutters, dry mounts, high lifts, pallet jacks, and fork lifts. Ability to clean, repair and otherwise maintain exhibits.    
  • Proficient in Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop)    
  • Experience in space planning, graphic design, exhibition design, and wayfinding in a museum setting.    
  • Experience with interpretive writing (i.e. graphic panels, object ID labels, etc.)    
  • Knowledge of methods and techniques of museum exhibit design, artifact installation, and construction. Examples include but are not limited to: gallery layout design, graphic design and fabrication, gallery furniture fabrication, lighting, artifact handling and packing, mount-making, exhibit-based digital technology and AV.    
  • Ability to use computer assisted design program such as Auto-CAD, Vector-Works, Sketch-up or similar program/application to produce scaled floorplans.    
  • Ability to read, review, critique, explain, and produce scaled floor plans and elevations.    
  • Experience with project management including setting timelines, establishing deliverables, communicating effectively with diverse stakeholders, and meeting deadlines on a variety of projects happening simultaneously.    
  • Ability to manage projects responsively, shifting workflow/timeline when necessary and as needed.  
  • Ability to assess progress, address problems, and develop creative solutions.  
  • Ability to prepare and install artifacts for exhibition.    
  • Ability to supervise subordinate staff; includes the ability to plan, organize, coordinate, and review work; coach staff in acquiring new skills, establish and maintain working relationships    
  • Ability to manage a budget and track expenditures  

Preferred/Desired Qualifications:  

  • Master's degree in the field of architecture, museology, design, art, history, or other relevant field.    
  • Experience working with exhibition planning tools such as Curia or like applications    
  • Experience working with KE Emu CMS    
  • Experience working with 3D modeling for exhibition layouts    
  • Experience working with digital project management tools
  • Experience developing digital audience engagement tools (e.g. videos, virtual tours, 360 photography and scanning)

 

SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION:

Working Conditions:

  • Must be able to lift  30 pounds    
  • Must be comfortable standing for long periods of time    
  • Must possess a Washington state driver's license    
  • Must pass a background check  

Application Process: 

To access the posting and apply you must visit online at www.careers.wa.gov. Click "Apply" while in the posting to complete and submit your application and include the following:

  • Cover letter outlining your interest and explaining how you meet the qualifications of this position.
  • Current resume
  • Digital images/examples or a portfolio of your creative exhibition design work. Digital examples of your exhibition design work may be submitted in the following formats: low res jpeg images, digital portfolio, or website URL.

Include three professional references in the "references" section of the application or include them in your resume.
 
Please carefully follow the above instructions.  We are looking for evidence in your application materials that you have the education/experience, skills, and abilities indicated in this job posting, so be certain to attach your cover letter, resume, and examples of your work.  The information you provide will be used as a basis for deciding who will be selected for the next step in the process.  An incomplete application packet may automatically be disqualified. 

Prior to a new hire, a background check including criminal record history will be conducted. Information from the background check will not necessarily preclude employment but will be considered in determining the applicant's suitability and competence to perform in the position. 
 
  Washington State Historical Society is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, marital status, race, creed, color, national origin, religion or beliefs, political affiliation, military status, honorably discharged veteran, Vietnam Era, recently separated or other protected veteran status, the presence of any sensory, mental, physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability, equal pay or genetic information. Persons requiring accommodation in the application process or this job announcement in an alternative format may contact the Human Resources Office at (253) 798-5901. Applicants who are deaf or hard of hearing may call through Washington Relay Service by dialing 7-1-1 or 1-800-833-6384.  .