Betty Lee Sung Research Fellowship

Museum of Chinese in America

Job Description

Posted on: 
February 16, 2024

The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is a nonprofit institution that engages audiences in an ongoing dialogue, in which people of all backgrounds are able to see American history and society through a critical lens, to reflect on their own experiences, and to make meaningful connections between the past and the present, the global and the local, themselves and others. MOCA celebrates the living history of the Chinese experience in America by preserving and presenting the two century-long history, heritage, culture, and diverse experiences of American communities of Chinese descent. As one of "America's Cultural Treasures," MOCA is devoted to educating the public on this important history and to inspiring meaningful intercultural dialogues through exhibitions, education, and public programs. Since its founding in 1980, MOCA has evolved from a Chinatown history project in New York City into an ambitious reflection of the whole of Chinese American history, becoming the country’s leading museum of Chinese American history and a global destination.

Betty Lee Sung Research Fellowship

MOCA supports rigorous scholarship and creative approaches to exhibition-making. To further these values, MOCA is launching the Betty Lee Sung Research Fellowship, which will support an emerging scholar, post-doctoral academic, or independent curator to conduct object-based research for an upcoming exhibition.

In addition to research in MOCA’s Collections and in other libraries and archives, the fellow will be involved in planning and content development discussions with the exhibition team, consisting of scholars, artists, designers, curators and other MOCA staff. Working directly with MOCA’s curatorial team, the fellow will receive mentorship, training and guidance in the research, development, and production of a major multimedia historical exhibition.

The fellowship is named in honor of Betty Lee Sung, a pioneering scholar of Chinese and Asian American history, whose archives are housed at MOCA. The fellow will be awarded a $10,000 stipend for the six-month fellowship.

Fellowship Term:

  • 6-month term, June 1 – December 31, 2024
  • 24 hours per week
  • Flexible schedule; at least one day per week in-person
  • $10,000 stipend

Responsibilities & Duties: 

  • Conduct research at private and public collections, libraries, and online resources for artifacts, images, and historical details according to assigned topics
  • Write research summaries on assigned topics
  • Present research findings to the curatorial and content team on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule 
  • Participate in planning meetings to identify and prioritize research goals, and other meetings as needed to discuss exhibition content and design
  • Compile, enter, and update content on project databases and spreadsheets
  • Manage and maintain artifact and image checklists
  • Research provenance information and assist in securing loans and permissions
  • Some domestic travel possible


  • Bachelor's degree in Chinese American history, Asian American history, American history, art history, media studies, anthropology, or a related field, or experience in public history projects
  • Master's degree in related field preferred
  • Academic and/or critical writing competency
  • Availability to work on-site at MOCA at least once a week or more depending on project needs
  • Excellent written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills 
  • Collegial, with the ability to work collaboratively and independently
  • Self-motivated and detail-oriented with excellent organizational skills
  • Intellectually curious with outstanding critical thinking skills
  • Prior experience securing image rights and permissions  
  • Proficiency in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and the Adobe Design Suite: Illustrator and Photoshop
  • Bilingual Mandarin and/or Cantonese, written and spoken, preferred

To Apply:

Only full application including the following materials will be considered.

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter, addressing your interest in the fellowship and your research focus
  • Two Writing Samples – maximum of 500 words (excerpts from academic papers, exhibition texts, art criticism, personal writing, etc.)

Applications will be accepted from February 14 – March 29, 2024. Candidates who advance to interviews will be contacted directly.

Research shows that women and people from underrepresented groups often apply to jobs only if they meet 100% of the qualifications. We recognize that it is highly unlikely that someone meets 100% of the qualifications for a role. If much of this job description describes you, then please apply for this role.

The Museum of Chinese in America is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy (including childbirth or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, genetic information, military or veteran status, citizenship, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state, or local law.

About the Betty Lee Sung Research Fellowship

The Betty Lee Sung Research Fellowship at MOCA will support an exceptional young scholar to conduct research for an upcoming temporary exhibition exploring a facet of Chinese American history. The fellow will receive mentorship from MOCA’s curatorial team and an opportunity to contribute to the development of a major multimedia historical exhibition. 

Betty Lee Sung (1924-2023) was a pioneering scholar of Chinese and Asian American history. She founded the first Asian American Studies program on the east coast at City College of New York in 1970. Her books include Mountain of Gold: The Story of the Chinese in America (1967), The Chinese in America (1973), and Chinese American Manpower and Employment (1976).

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