Employment Opportunity at the National Museum of African American History and Culture


The Smithsonian Institution (SI) National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) needs professional, non-personal, work-for-hire curatorial assistance services within the History Department, Office of Curatorial Affairs.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) opened on the National Mall on September 24, 2016. On December 16, 2003, President George W. Bush signed Congressional legislation establishing the Museum as the 19th museum of the Smithsonian Institution. The museum’s collections and educational programming cover topics as varied as Slavery and Emancipation, Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Movement, the Visual Arts, Fashion and Design and how African American culture has influenced and shaped history and culture throughout America and the world. It is anticipated that four to five million visitors will come to the approximately 400,000-square-foot Museum each year.

The purpose of this contract is to assist with managing and tracking information flow and the processing of new acquisitions and existing collection artifacts within the History Department, Office of Curatorial Affairs.


The contractor shall provide professional, technical, non-personal curatorial assistance services to research, manage and track proper and up-to-date information pertaining to existing collection objects and objects under consideration for acquisition in order to make artifacts publicly accessible and available for inclusion in Museum-defined projects.

The project will take place over the period of performance mainly at the NMAAHC’s Capital Gallery offices at 600 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. Periodically, the contractor will be required to work at the NMAAHC’s Mall building at 1400 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. and at the off-site storage facility at 3400 Pennsy Drive in Hyattsville, Maryland. NMAAHC and its Capital Gallery facility, and Pennsy Drive locations are accessible by public transportation. Work will be scheduled at mutually convenient times for the contractor and the Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR) between the hours of about 8:30am and 5:30pm over the course of the period of performance. Work shall proceed upon completion of a signed purchase order and the Contractor shall conduct work commencing on or around September 1, 2017 and finishing no later than around August 31, 2018.

Qualifications and Specific Tasks

The contractor shall have:

  • Knowledge of American history, particularly regarding African American history and culture.
  • Experience conducting research pertaining to African American history and material culture.
  • Experience communicating formally and informally in writing and over the phone.

The primary duties and responsibilities of the contractor shall include, but are not limited to, those tasks described below:

  • Work with Curators, Museum Specialists, Collections Management staff, and Management Support Assistants to track, review, and respond to collection offers referred to History Curators.
  • Conduct correspondence with potential donors; produce background material and draft justifications for acquisition and accessioning; maintain necessary records and files.
  • Assist Curators and Registrars in processing items to be acquired and accessioned.
  • Work with the cataloguing team in researching the provenance and historical context for artifacts; coordinate with the Digitization Team for imaging, cataloguing objects and, finally, reviewing TMS files.
  • Work with Registrars, Collections Management staff, and Project Management staff to maintain checklist of loaned objects and NMAAHC objects that require rotation in Inaugural Exhibitions, including necessary dates for rotation; research and provide viable replacements for objects; if necessary, complete loan request and justification paperwork in concert with Curatorial team, Registrars, and Project Management staff.
  • Assist with identifying, researching, and making artifacts publicly accessible as requested by Curators and/or project staff for specific programs or other interpretive products by working closely with staff members of the Office of Curatorial Affairs, IT Department, Project Management Office, and the Registrar’s Office.
  • Meet regularly in person and over the phone with the Supervisory Curator of History as well as with project teams, as needed.

The period of performance will be on or about September 1, 2017-August 31, 2018.
Contact William Pretzer (pretzerw@si.edu) for bid package. Quotes are due COB July 26, 2017