The Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor, Washington, is seeking a Preservation Specialist with specific skills in historic wooden boat restoration/conservation to implement the restoration/conservation of the Shenandoah, a 65-foot historic purse seiner, and oversee the preservation needs of our one-room schoolhouse and other large, wooden objects in the collection. This is a two-year contract with the option for renewal based on funding, performance, and project progression.
Two of the Museums largest artifacts include the 65-foot Shenandoah purse seiner and the last remaining one-room schoolhouse in the area that was moved to the site in 2009. This position will work with a team of dedicated volunteers, and at times high school and college-aged students who are intent on seeking experience in the restoration/preservation field. The position requires a minimum of five years experience in boat restoration and conservation (this may include specific training at a dedicated boat building/restoration school); proven ability to work with teams of volunteers and students; dedication to the historic preservation field; the ability to develop weekly work plans based on an overall preservation plan and communicate in a positive and friendly manner those plans to the people assisting with the restoration project.
The Preservation Specialist will also have the ability to assess and develop preservation plans for other large objects in the Museum collection such as the Thunderbird Hull #1, horse drawn carriages, and the schoolhouse. S/he will be responsible for overseeing safety and clean-up in the Maritime Gallery during and after preservation team sessions. S/he must be able to work independently as well as with a team, in league with the preservation plan established in partnership with the Director. The Preservation Specialist will be required to attend Museum staff meetings in order to stay informed about overall Museum planning.
Because our preservation work is often done during public hours, it is essential that our Preservation Specialist be personable, knowledgeable, and willing to explain the work being done to our visitors. S/he will work with other museum staff to inform programming, interpretive materials, and program promotion.
The Harbor History Museum is a non-profit organization that relies on community funding, grants, and earned income for its survival. For this reason, we are looking for a Preservation Specialist who is responsive to and understanding of the need for judicious management of funds while also being a creative problem solver.
About the Shenandoah Restoration Project
The 65-foot purse seiner Shenandoah was donated to the museum with the intent that the boat would be used for teaching restoration skills and for imparting the fishing and boat building traditions specific to Gig Harbor and the South Puget Sound. In the years since, a team of volunteers have assisted shipwrights in the replacement of beams, planking, interiors, and now the fish hold and stern deck. The Washington State Historic Preservation Fund has been the primary source of project funding.
Our restoration/conservation plan for the Shenandoah adopts a strategy much like that used on the Asgard, a sailing vessel now on view at the National Museum of Ireland. The approach taken there included fully restoring half of the vessel to make it look new again, while the other half was painstakingly conserved to show each restoration element and explain the techniques and strategies used to complete the work with the public. Because there is no intention of the boat ever being put back in the water, the goal is to retain as much of the remaining original vessel as possible, while stabilizing and averting deterioration in an effort to interpret the story of the boat and history it represents through original woods, hardware, and finishes.