Preparator Washington State Historical Society Washington State Historical Society 284 reviews


The Washington State Historical Society has an exciting opportunity to join our exhibitions and design team as the Preparator.

The Opportunity:
The preparator provides a variety of skilled duties that aide in the preparation, fabrication, installation, and care, of museum exhibitions at the WSHS, both internal and external, physical and digital. Additionally, the preparatory provides administrative support to the exhibition designer and curatorial team. As the presentation of exhibitions is a primary purpose of the Washington State History Museum, and a major activity of the Washington State Historical Society, this position is essential to advancement of the society’s mission and goals.

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, and conversations. 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.

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 driven professionals who work on projects that are incredibly rewarding and invigorating. You will work collaboratively with WSHS staff and support the WSHS mission through your actions. PLUS, we offer great benefits.

  • 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 for more information. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee


Assists with the preparation and installation of WSHS exhibits

  • Constructs walls, pedestals, object mounts, exhibition environments, interpretive panels, and interactives. Some design may be required.
  • Formats, prints, cuts, and mounts interpretive panels and labels.
  • Installs and de-installs WSHS exhibitions.
  • Installs and de-installs exhibitions on-loan or rented to WSHS.
  • Prepares galleries for installation by patching, painting, and positioning of temporary walls.
  • Assists Collections team in transporting, packing/unpacking exhibit components and artifacts, utilizing museum standards to protect artifacts.
  • Maintains cleanliness and functionality of galleries and displays.
  • Ensures exhibit supply orders are placed and appropriate materials are onsite and on-time per exhibition installation schedules, and for general maintenance of exhibitions.
  • Maintains shop tools and large format printers in fabrication lab.
  • Maintains cleanliness, safety, and functionality of wood shop and fabrication lab.

Serves as back-up lighting and audio visual technician for exhibits.

  • Installs, repairs and troubleshoots audio visual equipment in galleries.
  • Positions lighting in temporary exhibition galleries, troubleshoots lighting problems in exhibition galleries.

Works with Exhibits team to facilitate digital exhibit programming.

  • Formats online exhibitions in cooperation with curatorial and marketing teams.
  • Facilitates production of assets for digital exhibitions, including exhibit documentation and interpretive content.
  • Assists in the creation of virtual tours.


  • Ideal candidates will possess three or more years of experience or equivalent combination of training and experience in a museum, fabrication shop, architecture firm, or gallery setting.
  • Experience installing 2D and 3D artifacts and artworks.
  • Intermediate to advanced carpentry techniques and joinery including safe operation of stationary shop equipment and a full complement of hand tools.
  • Beginner to Intermediate skills with Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop and InDesign), Microsoft office suite, and Sketchup or CADD drawing software.
  • Strong curiosity regarding museum display strategies, exhibition design, and installation techniques and technologies.
  • Comfortable climbing and working safely on tall ladders and lifts.
  • Ability to lift, transfer or move or assist in moving heavy objects (25lbs+) with materials lift, forklift, dollies, and palate jack.
  • Familiarity with matting and framing.
  • Familiarity with plotter and large format printing and graphics mounting.
  • Ability to collaborate in a productive and professional manner. Candidate is self-motivated and can take initiative to complete projects in a timely and highly-detailed manner.
  • Candidate is able to work well with others, communicating clearly, and adapt to changing scenarios as needed.


  • Experience in artifact mount fabrication and a willingness to further develop skills as needed.
  • Familiarity with basic principles and technologies of gallery lighting design, included LED technology, busway, and appropriate nomenclature.
  • Experience installing Audio Visual technology including projectors, media players, sound systems, and monitors. Familiarity with latest technology and terminology and installation procedures in the museum environment.
  • Intermediate to Advance skills with Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop and InDesign), Microsoft office suite, and Sketchup or CADD drawing software.
  • Familiarity with photography of both larger interior spaces and individual objects/artifacts.
  • Experience patching and painting walls.
  • Knowledge of museum standards related to artifact display and exhibitions, including artifact handling, storage, materials, and conservation principles.

Special Requirements/Conditions of Employment

  • Must be comfortable standing for long periods of time

  • Must be able to lift, move or transfer 25lbs
  • Must be able to climb and work from tall ladders

  • Must pass a background check

  • Must possess a Washington state driver's license

Supplemental Information

Working Conditions:

  • Work is performed indoors, in galleries, office, wood shop, and fabrication lab.
  • Schedule is 40 hours per week, typical hours are 8:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday. Hours are occasionally adjusted to allow for evening and weekend work as needed.
  • Travel is incidental to acquire supplies, make occasional trips to the Research Center, Convention Center, and artifact transport trips as necessary. Agency vehicles may be scheduled for use.
  • Required use of hand and power tools, wood shop stationary, mechanical scissor lift, forklift, ladders, plot printers and mounting presses, audio-visual equipment, Apple and PC software environments, lighting fixtures and lamps.
  • Interactions with WSHS staff and volunteers, guest curators and contractors as needed. Occasional interaction with public may be required.

UNION SHOP PROVISION: This position is in a bargaining unit and falls under the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the state of Washington and the Washington Federation for State Employees (WFSE).

Application Process
To be considered you must apply online at (Click on the green APPLY button above). You must complete the entire online application and respond to the supplemental questions.

Include the following:

  • Resume
    – please do not add it into the text of the application, it must be an attachment.
  • The names of three professional references – you may attach a document, use the References text field in the online application, or include with resume. Please be sure to include current contact information.

Please carefully follow the below instructions:

We are looking for evidence in your application materials that you have the education, experience, skills, and abilities indicated in this job posting. 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.

By submitting these materials, you are indicating that all information is true and correct. The state may verify information. Any untruthful or misleading information is cause for removal from the applicant pool or dismissal if employed.

NOTE: Prior to any new appointment into the Washington State Historical Society 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

You are welcome to include the name and pronoun you would like to be referred to in your materials and we will honor this as you interact with our organization.

Should you have any questions regarding this position or the online application, contact Kathy Tarli at (253) 798-5901 or [email protected]

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