Alumna Profile

Kristine Leier

Kristine Leier, museum curator, Nez Perce National Historical Park..
Kristine Leier, museum curator, Nez Perce National Historical Park.

While I originally anticipated following in my father’s footsteps and becoming an archaeologist, I quickly realized this field of work was not suited for me. Even though I declared anthropology as my major, I was conflicted about what career path I should pursue. Under the guidance of Dr. Mary Collins, I began volunteering for the WSU Museum of Anthropology and soon realized my true interest lay in the museum field. Over the next couple of years, I continued to volunteer and work on cataloging artifacts from archaeological collections housed at WSU. It was also during this period of time that I was employed with the National Park Service as a student under the Pathways Program, so by working with museum collections from several different park sites I was able to gain a more diverse perspective of curatorial work.

After graduating from WSU in spring 2015, I continued on with my education at Arizona State University. While my focus in school remained on collection management work, I branched out and got involved in survey data analysis, exhibit installations, and resiliency in community programs. In the summer of 2016, I moved to Washington, D.C., and worked as an intern for the Department of the Interior Museum Program, where I developed an online exhibit through Google Arts and Culture and assisted with creating an online interactive museum training course. I also interned that summer with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum where I helped with a facility relocation project for their museum collection storage space. Although the work environments were vastly different, both internships gave me insight into areas of the museum field that I previously knew nothing about and also gave me a better appreciation for the type of museum work I was interested in pursuing. I came back to Phoenix that fall and finished out my last year in school, graduating with my MA in museum studies in spring 2017. Several months later I began working for the National Park Service as the museum curator for the Nez Perce National Historical Park located in Spalding, Idaho. I am also curator of record for the Whitman Mission National Historic Site, Big Hole National Battlefield, and Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.

My journey these past couple of years has been full of surprises and has taken me on some paths I never dreamed I would experience, but I am so thankful for all the amazing opportunities that have led to where I am today. To work for an agency that helps protect and preserve our natural and cultural resources for future generations is very rewarding. It is also an immense privilege to curate and care for Nez Perce material culture and to help educate visitors about the importance of these objects.