After 22 years of working at the Issaquah History Museum, Executive Director Erica Maniez has accepted a new opportunity to work at 4Culture, a cultural funding agency in King County.
Maniez began working at the Issaquah History Museum in July 1999, several weeks after obtaining her master’s degree in museology.
“I started there as the first employee that they’d ever hired,” said Maniez. “They had just secured funding from the city of Issaquah to hire an employee, so it was an all-volunteer organization and they really wanted to have someone come in and organize and professionalize the organization and get some regular fundraising going.”
Maniez described taking on the responsibility of shifting the museum from an all-volunteer organization to one that now has five staff members.
“I’ve kind of been the chief cook and bottle washer, so just about anything that gets done at the museum, one point or another, I have done it,” said Maniez. “We now have a collections manager who handles the collection and brings in the artifacts and labels them and catalogs them, and all that good stuff. But that was something that I did at one point.”
During her years working for the museum, Maniez had the opportunity to meet adults who had tours with her during their youth. She has also conducted history hikes, cemetery walks and pub crawls.
“I’ve mostly done the downtown history hikes and the cemetery walks, and the point of any of those is to lead folks on public trails — to lead them down these particular trails and show them the history that’s hidden there that they may never have noticed before,” said Maniez.
Maniez brought up how Issaquah is generally seen through 21st century eyes, and that she has assisted individuals with seeing the city as it was 50, 100, and even 150 years ago through sharing stories and photographs.
“The two things I always tell people that I love the most about my job are the opportunity to talk to other people about Issaquah’s past,” said Maniez. “The other thing I really enjoy is learning more about Issaquah’s past, whether that means researching and being able to dig into the Issaquah Press or sitting down to do an oral history with someone.”
One of the things Maniez said she’s proudest of is getting the entire Issaquah Press catalogue digitized, which dates back to 1900. Maniez’s last official day working for the Issaquah History Museum was on Jan. 28, although she will be tying loose ends throughout the month. She started her new job as Executive Assistant at 4Culture on Feb. 1.
“4Culture has been a funding source for the museums for a long time, and I’ve had an opportunity to work with them in their heritage advisory committee,” said Maniez. “I know a lot of people there, and I understand their mission well. When the position came open, it just seemed like a really good match for my skills and interests.”
At 4Culture, Maniez will be working closely with the executive director, including assisting with board meetings.
“I’m just really excited to be going to 4Culture,” said Maniez. “They advocate for culture in order to enhance the quality of life in King County, and they do that with a specific focus on racial equity, so I’m really excited to continue working on history and heritage and culture, just on a different level.”
With all the excitement of her new position at 4Culture, Issaquah will hold a special place in Maniez’s heart.
“I will miss so many things. I will miss the people in the community,” said Maniez. “I think that’s been the greatest wealth of this position — meeting the people that I’ve had the opportunity to meet, and I’ll miss being hands on with history too.”
Maniez believes now is a great time to get involved with the Issaquah History Museum. For those who are interested in volunteering opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org