Smithsonian's National Museum of American History Is Hiring a Beer Historian
Attention, booze-loving historians and scholars: Your dream job awaits. Washingtonian reports that the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH) is hiring an expert to research American brewing history—with a special emphasis on craft beer—for a three-year appointment.
The position is funded by the Brewers Association, and pays an annual salary of $64,000, plus benefits [PDF]. According to a NMAH release, the hired candidate will work with the museum’s Division of Work and Industry—which collects objects, documents, photographs, and oral histories relating to work and industry in America—on a new initiative that examines our nation’s long, illustrious beer-making history. It’s part of the Smithsonian Food History project, a program that researches and documents how the country’s eating habits have changed over the years.
Thanks to America’s recent love affair with craft beer, the NMAH wanted to learn more about how brewing techniques and beer businesses evolved after 1960.
"We have collected food history for many years, so when we were doing the research for the exhibition, which is all about big changes in the post WW II era in how and what we eat, one thing we were curious about is the craft beer movement," NMAH curator Paula Johnson told Washington City Paper. "We were looking at wine, coffee, cheese, artisanal bread, and farmers markets. Well, this movement with small-scale, local regional beer is part of the ethos."
In 2015, ABC News reports, there were more than 4200 total breweries operating in the U.S. Meanwhile, the nation’s number of craft breweries more than doubled from 2009 to 2015. Part of the NMAH’s new initiative will involve exploring this artisanal beer trend.
“In order to see a trend, you have to see the deep history," Johnson told ABC News. "[The new position] will attend to both. You always want to understand, 'How did we get to 4,200 small breweries here in 2016 from just a few 30 years ago?' There’s an economic aspect and a community aspect to this story.”
The role of “beer historian” might sound like it’s all fun and games (and, yes, happy hours), but applicants are expected to have some serious credentials, the NMAH’s release states. The institution is looking for someone with “proven experience in scholarly research, organizing and conducting oral history interviews, writing for both scholarly and general audiences, and knowledge of material culture and archival materials.” An advanced degree is also a plus: Candidates who studied American business, brewing, food, culture, or a similar historic specialization in graduate school are encouraged to apply, the museum writes.
Want to become the Smithsonian’s new beer expert? Send a CV, a cover letter, and names of three references to: Abigail Karow at NMAHApplications@si.edu by August 10, 2016.
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