Research Associate & Assistant to the Director – Historic Freer House (Detroit, MI)

Research Associate & Assistant to the Director of the Historic Freer House

Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute, Wayne State University.


The historic Freer House is the headquarters of the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute (MPSI) of Wayne State University.  It was originally built in 1892 as the home of industrialist and art collector, Charles Lang Freer, founder of the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.  Current goals for the Freer House include raising public awareness of the legacy of Freer and building support for the maintenance and restoration of this landmark Detroit building.

Freer House staff includes an Executive Director and an Assistant to the Director/Research Associate, whose responsibilities include development and implementation of educational programs, membership management, visitor services, research and documentation, fundraising, marketing and public relations, and building restoration project development and implementation.  Freer House staff work closely and in concert with the administrative staff and systems of MPSI/WSU.

The Freer House Research Associate position requires an extremely capable individual to work 32 to 40 hours per week to handle administrative responsibilities as an Assistant to the Director of the Freer House.  Ability to work occasional weekday evenings and weekend hours for meetings and special events is also required.  (Some limited modifications may be possible to accommodate class schedules.)

Responsibilities include all facets of office operations:  budgeting; assistance with grants and fundraising; preparing documents;  meeting preparation; development of power point presentations;  maintaining online and hardcopy files and archives;  preparing newsletters and marketing materials;  undertaking research and documentation projects; and creating educational materials and exhibits.  Excellent research, writing, editing and communication skills are required.  Graphic design skills a plus.

Experience at minimum with Word, Excel, Powerpoint, IMovie and ideally InDesign required. Ability to learn new software is key.  Experience with social media and website management is also required.

This position involves frequent interaction with the public and includes management of support services for visitors, volunteers, board members, donors and community leaders.  Excellent public relations, marketing, social and ‘people’ skills are essential.   An ability to assist the Director with development and relationship building for programs and partnerships with other institutions and community organizations is vital.  Special event planning and implementation skills and experience are also highly desirable.

Outstanding time management skills, ability to multi-task and independently problem solve are especially important.  At the same time, a willingness to take direction, an ease with handling the unexpected, and an ability to work collaboratively and harmoniously with others will be essential.

Interest and background in history, historic preservation, urban revitalization, architecture, art and art history  (particularly American and Asian art history) museum studies, non-profit organization management, fundraising and development is highly recommended.  A strong interest in diversity and cross cultural understanding, especially between the U.S., Asia and the Near East is a plus.

Position includes a standard benefit package for WSU employees.

Salary dependent upon experience and ability to learn.

Position is open from July 18, 2017 – September 30, 2018.


Continuation is anticipated but dependent on available funding.

Contact:  William S. Colburn, Director,

Post expires at 5:00pm on Saturday September 30th, 2017

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