Director of Public History, Historic Hudson Valley Museum of History and Industry - Tarrytown, NY
Posted: Wednesday, December 21, 2022 Permalink


Historic Hudson Valley (HHV) seeks an experienced museum professional to play a central role in the future of interpretation at its five historic sites and through its award-winning original digital media (videos, websites, online graphic novels). The Director of Public History will serve as a subject specialist across the sites, and their research, grounded in primary documents, will result in new interpretive plans, training resources, innovative programs, and a substantive digital presence for HHV’s sites and assets. Working closely with the Vice President of Programs and Engagement, the Director of Public History will help shape a strategy for content development and implementation that will take HHV into the next decade.


  • The Director of Public History will be an essential player in fashioning new, more compelling, and appealing ways to present historic sites to the public, create educational programs, and produce digital products to expand the reach of the museum significantly.
  • The Director of Public History will inherit an impressive portfolio of federally-funded digital resources and in-person initiatives, as well as a national reputation for scholarship and excellence that far exceeds HHV’s physical size.
  • The Director of Public History will have general oversight for HHV’s collection of rare books, manuscripts, maps, decorative and fine arts objects, textiles and furniture. This collection is the greatest source of interpretive content available to the Director of Public History, and its holdings include important primary documents relating to families connected with the historic sites, their engagement with historical events such as slavery, and their daily activities.
  • The Director of Public History will be able to build their own team with positions in digital content creation, public programs, and digital archives.


  • HHV has had to work against a national decline in interest and visitation to historic house museums across the country. It has the advantage of many assets in the variety of structures, landscapes, and stories it can offer. Visitation has rebounded well following pandemic-related restrictions.
  • HHV is aware of the rise of anti-CRT rhetoric and legislation that seeks to prevent the teaching of American slavery in parts of the United States. They actively work to support teachers who are addressing this important history with accurate, document-based classroom resources and pedagogical tools.
  • Some aspects of living history methodology subject to reconsideration may have proponents among long-time museum educators, who will not embrace change as readily as others.

Candidate Profile

The Director of Public History must have a sound base in historical research and scholarship, and experience interpreting difficult or painful content, such as the history of slavery, through a variety of media. They will have grappled with the challenges of meeting the needs of diverse audience sectors at historic sites and be deeply engaged with storytelling and technological innovations in the field. They will not be wedded to standard approaches to historic site interpretation, but will relish the chance to innovate and experiment. A people person, the Director of Public History will be an effective ambassador outside the organization and able to work effectively with the Director of Education, K-12 Programs Coordinator, Education Managers, and the well-educated, accomplished retirees who serve as part-time museum educators.


  • Create vibrant, compelling, and factually accurate interpretive material for use in tours, public programs, and digital resources, with an emphasis on primary document research and inclusive narratives
  • Assess and revise interpretive plans and tour scripts across sites
  • Design remarkable digital storytelling tools and innovative platforms, and pilot new engagement methods with a special focus on programmatic themes
  • Oversee the Digital Content Coordinator, and the development of a meaningful and engaging social media presence for the Education department, and HHV’s sites and collections writ large
  • Oversee the Public Programs Manager and the implementation of HHV’s content-based events schedule, which includes festivals, lecture series, performances, and family programs
  • Oversee the Research Librarian and the special programs (such as digitization efforts, research fellowships, and transcription teams) that the Librarian supervises
  • Direct the ongoing work of the Curatorial Coordinator to ensure that site care is maintained and interpretation remains accurate
  • Develop and oversee ongoing staff training for onsite and virtual tours and programs at HHV’s sites
  • Develop a robust advisory council of subject specialists to guide HHV’s interpretive work
  • Reinvigorate HHV’s African American Advisory Board and its Women’s History Institute Founding Committee
  • Generate content-based audience development and evaluation tools
  • Contribute as needed to the preparation of federal grants, annual reports, and other organizational materials
  • Serve in an ambassadorial capacity for HHV’s programming and digital resources, continuing HHV’s tradition of speaking at national conferences and other venues

Key Qualifications and Skill sets:

  • Knowledge of, and active interest in, HHV’s interpretive themes, especially Northern slavery, women’s history, American history, and the history of the Rockefeller family
  • Broad awareness of innovative modes of interpreting historic sites and outdoor history museums to the public
  • Demonstrated ability to inspire and manage museum staff
  • Maturity and polish to serve as a representative of the organization to funders and peer institutions
  • Excellent communication and storytelling skills; ability to make HHV’s work come alive through superior written materials, stories, and talking points
  • Flexibility to work at a strategic level as well as to manage the day-to-day tasks associated with the implementation of a robust content and collections strategy across a constellation of sites
  • Computer and media skills, including proficiency in the Microsoft Office, WordPress, Vimeo, and iMovie suites, and willingness to learn TMS/eMuseum and other collections management systems

Education and Experience:

  • Master’s degree in museum studies, American history, or related field of study
  • 5+ years of managerial experience and 5+ years of programmatic experience at a museum, historic site, or educational nonprofit
  • Significant experience building and maintaining programmatic infrastructure and leading and mentoring staff
  • Familiarity with collections-based initiatives and research
  • Experience contributing to successful grants

About Historic Hudson Valley

John D. Rockefeller Jr. founded Historic Hudson Valley in 1951, employing many of the principles he had applied while establishing Colonial Williamsburg. The mission of the organization is to celebrate the history, architecture, landscape, and culture of the Hudson River Valley, advancing its importance and thereby ensuring its preservation. With an annual operating budget of roughly $12,000,000, HHV typically welcomes more than 300,000 visitors a year at five National Historic Landmark sites along the Hudson River in New York State: Philipsburg Manor, Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, Van Cortlandt Manor, Union Church of Pocantico Hills, and Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate. Historic Hudson Valley is well-known for its Halloween programming, particularly The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, a hugely popular public festival on the grounds of Van Cortlandt Manor. The event generates vital revenue for HHV's preservation and education work and serves as a major driver of tourism in Sleepy Hollow Country. The organization is financially stable.

HHV offers a range of public programs and digital resources designed to appeal to a variety of interests and learning styles. Visitors come for regularly scheduled tours led by trained, part-time museum educators, student field trips, special programs, and to participate in popular seasonal events. HHV digital content receives support from the NEH, IMLS , NYSCA and Arts

Westchester and includes a compelling array of multimedia resources on the history of Northern slavery at our colonial sites as well as projects connected to Sunnyside and Kykuit, such as a popular shadow puppet adaptation of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” All of HHV’s public programing pays tribute to the rich history, culture, and folklore of the region, helping to build an audience for HHV’s important content, attract visitors, and generate economic activity through heritage tourism.

HHV’s Regional History Center includes a distinguished research library containing more than 12,00 titles, 3500 manuscript items, and 200 maps. This hidden treasure is regularly consulted by academics, genealogists, and local historians, as well as by HHV staff.

In 1998, HHV became one of the nation’s first historic sites to interpret northern enslavement, with support of the NEH and in collaboration with HHV’s African American Advisory Board, a council of Westchester County educators and civic leaders that still serves as the linchpin of its work on Northern slavery. In 2019, HHV launched a groundbreaking digital resource on the history of northern slavery, entitled People Not Property: Stories of Slavery in the Colonial North. This comprehensive website devoted to the histories of enslaved individuals from Pennsylvania to Maine received numerous plaudits and awards, including a Webby for best educational website from the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. More important was the fact that People Not Property drew national attention to the HHV Education Department’s willingness to grapple with “hard history.” HHV developed a high school curriculum around the website, and has received funding from the IMLS and the NEH to develop, test, and deliver further resources on northern slavery for teachers, students, and the general public.

In 2017, HHV founded the Women’s History Institute (WHI), designed to highlight the experiences and accomplishments of women, both free and enslaved, across their historic sites and throughout the Hudson Valley. This program has generated a robust summer research fellowship, now in its 6th year, annual family programs and evening lectures, and an international, virtual transcription corps of over 100 volunteers. Most recently, HHV received funding from the NEH to create Invisible Women, a virtual field trip exploring the lives of the women at their colonial sites. Another WHI project, She-Merchant, a brief documentary of the life of Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse, was supported by DutchCulture USA and is scheduled to be released in early 2023.


The annual salary will be between $100,000 and $120,000.

About the Lower Hudson Valley

HHV is located in Tarrytown, a village within the larger town of Greenburgh in Westchester County on the lower Hudson River. The village has a somewhat racially and socioeconomically diverse population of 11,400 people. Twenty-five miles from midtown Manhattan, Tarrytown’s character is typical of the Westchester “River Towns,” as the communities along the Hudson River north of Yonkers are often known. These walkable towns are generally regarded as attracting more urbane, creative professionals

and artists than do towns inland or on the Sound Shore, and the communities showcases a mix of urban, suburban, and village traits, including ample municipal parks, cherished public libraries, and popular restaurants. Rockland, Putnam and Dutchess Counties offer equally charming and family-friendly ex-urbs with lower real estate prices, if the commute is a little longer. Metro-North trains on the Harlem, Hudson, and Pascack Valley lines provide ready access to New York City from all these counties. Highways link the community to upstate and western New York as well as Connecticut to the east. Local schools are highly regarded.


Nominations and inquiries welcome. To apply: email cover letter and résumé and names of 3 references with contact information by January 9, 2023, to: Scott Stevens, Senior Search Consultant at: References will not be contacted without prior permission of the applicant, and all applications and nominations are kept confidential. For full details, visit