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Internship Profiles

Museums

Anacostia Community Museum

The Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum documents and interprets the effect of historical and contemporary social and cultural issues on communities. Established in 1967 as the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum, it served first as a Smithsonian outreach museum situated in one of the D.C.'s largely African American neighborhoods and later evolved into a museum documenting, preserving and interpreting African American history from local and community history perspectives.

Internships are available to students with an interest in documenting and interpreting the effect of historical and contemporary social and cultural issues on communities.

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

The Freer Gallery houses a world–renowned collection of art from China, Japan, Korea, South and Southeast Asia, and the Near East. Visitor favorites include Chinese paintings, Japanese folding screens, Korean ceramics, Indian and Persian manuscripts, and Buddhist sculpture. A highlight of the Whistler holdings is the Peacock Room, a dining room that was once part of a London townhouse. In 1876, Whistler lavishly decorated the room with a blue and gold peacock design. After the owner's death, the room was brought to the United States and permanently installed in the Freer Gallery.

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery opened in 1987 to house a gift of some 1,000 works of Asian art from Dr. Arthur M. Sackler (1913–87), a research physician and medical publisher from New York City. Among the highlights of his gift were early Chinese bronzes and jades, Chinese paintings and lacquerware, ancient Near Eastern ceramics and metalware, and sculpture from South and Southeast Asia. Sackler also donated $4 million toward construction of the gallery. Since 1987, the gallery's collections have expanded to include the Vever Collection, an important assemblage of the Islamic arts of the book from the 11th to the 19th centuries; 19th– and 20th–century Japanese prints and contemporary porcelain; Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean paintings; arts of village India; contemporary Chinese ceramics; and photography.

Internships for the two galleries are available to students for special projects and general work in the following departments: administration, collections management (registrar), conservation and scientific research, curatorial, design and installation, development, education (including public programs), library and archives, publications, photography, public affairs, and shops. A working knowledge of pertinent Asian languages is suggested for curatorial internships.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Smithsonian Institution's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden collects, preserves and presents international modern and contemporary art in all media, distinguished by in–depth holdings of major artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. By collaborating with artists on exhibitions, programs and special projects, the Hirshhorn provides an important national platform in Washington, D.C., for the vision and voices of artists.

Internships provide an excellent foundation for future museum work or art–related careers. Interns work extensively within specific departments, as well as interacting with professionals in every area of the museum, learning how various departments realize particular and common goals. Today, many former interns are curators, educators, public affairs officers and conservators at national and international museums.

National Air and Space Museum

The Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum maintains the largest collection of historic air– and spacecraft in the world. It is also a vital center for research into the history, science and technology of aviation and space flight, as well as planetary science and terrestrial geology and geophysics.

Internships are offered to students studying aircraft restoration and preservation, archives, aviation, earth and planetary studies, education, development, exhibits, history, journalism, library disciplines, museology, photography, public affairs, science and space science.

National Museum of African Art

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art fosters the discovery and appreciation of the visual arts of Africa, the cradle of humanity.

Internship opportunities are available in the following departments: conservation, curatorial, education, exhibition and design, photographic archives, public affairs, and registration. Candidates must have a background in art history, anthropology, museum studies or a related discipline. Specific training in African art or other aspects of African culture is desirable, particularly in the education and curatorial departments.

National Museum of American History, Behring Center

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History dedicates its collections and scholarship to inspiring a broader understanding of our nation and its many peoples. It creates opportunities for learning by stimulating imaginations and presenting challenging ideas about our country's past.

The museum collects and preserves more than three million artifacts—all true national treasures. They take care of an assortment of diverse materials, including the original Star–Spangled Banner, Abraham Lincoln's top hat, Dizzy Gillespie's angled trumpet and Dorothy's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. The collections form a fascinating mosaic of American life and comprise the greatest single collection of American historical artifacts.

The National Museum of American History internship program allows a diverse group of people with innumerable interests, strengths and goals to encounter an educational environment where they can work with and learn from professionals and scholars in related areas of concentration. The museum offers interns of different backgrounds incredible opportunities in a variety of fields, from public relations to exhibition research to project design. Learning from knowledgeable mentors in the dynamic atmosphere of the museum and Washington, D.C., area, interns enjoy an intensive experience as multifaceted as the museum itself.

National Museum of Natural History

The National Museum of Natural History is dedicated to inspiring curiosity, discovery and learning about the natural world through its unparalleled research, collections, exhibitions and education outreach programs. Opened in 1910, the green–domed museum on the National Mall was among the first Smithsonian buildings constructed exclusively to house the national collections and research facilities.

With world–class exhibits, public programs, educational activities, scientists and facilities, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History offers opportunities for almost everyone to become involved in the activities of the museum—from scientific research to business ventures to public outreach.

Areas of study include natural sciences, business ventures, collections management, education and outreach, exhibits and public programs, information technologies, laboratory techniques, media and public affairs, project and program management, science administration, scientific illustration, scientific research, safety and security, and more.

National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is the first national museum dedicated to the preservation, study and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history and arts of Native Americans. Established by an act of Congress in 1989, the museum works in collaboration with the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere to protect and foster their cultures by reaffirming traditions and beliefs, encouraging contemporary artistic expression and empowering the Indian voice.

Internships provide an educational opportunity for students in the area of museum practice and related programming through guided work and research experiences using the resources of the National Museum of the American Indian and other Smithsonian offices. Past projects include developing and evaluating visitor guides, cataloging photos, monitoring collections, installing exhibits, conducting exhibit research, and developing databases and press kits.

National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery tells the story of America through the individuals who have shaped U.S. culture. Through the visual and performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists who speak American history.

The availability of internships is dependent on departmental projects and staff needs, as well as on the background, skills and interests of the applicant.

National Postal Museum

The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum is dedicated to the preservation, study and presentation of postal history and philately. The museum uses exhibits, educational public programs and research to make this rich history available to scholars, philatelists, collectors and visitors from around the world.

Internships are available for the following areas of study: American studies, collections management, education, exhibits, philately, postal history, public affairs and transportation history.

Interns work with a small professional staff on current projects in one or more of the following museum departments: collections, curatorial, education and exhibits. Interns with a wide variety of skill levels are accepted.

In addition to participating in the internship projects, interns are encouraged to take one afternoon per week to explore current exhibitions in a variety of local museums and to talk with museum staff from all departments regarding careers.

National Zoological Park

The Smithsonian's National Zoo was founded in 1889. Its mission is to provide leadership in animal care, science, education and sustainability. About 2,000 individuals of 400 different species are in the animal collection.

The National Zoo offers exciting and unique internships that help participants reach a range of academic and professional goals. Internship positions are available from a variety of groups at the zoo including: exhibits, safety office, veterinary medicine, research, and animal programs.

Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery

The Smithsonian American Art Museum displays its collections and presents special exhibitions in two locations in Washington, D.C. Its main building is in the heart of a vibrant downtown cultural district, while its branch museum for contemporary craft and decorative arts, the Renwick Gallery, is nine blocks west, near the White House.

Since 1968, the Smithsonian American Art Museum's internship programs have provided instruction and inspiration to hundreds of students. Former interns have achieved success in professional positions in the art and museum fields, both nationally and internationally.

Like the museum field itself, the scope of these programs has grown to include participants from all academic backgrounds. The intership programs promote mentoring relationships between interns and staff and encourage program alumni to maintain contact for networking purposes. An alumni reunion is held yearly.

Divisions and Research Centers

Architectural History and Historic Preservation

The Architectural History and Historic Preservation Division (AHHP) was organized in 1986 to act as curator of the Smithsonian's diverse campus of buildings. In this role, AHHP strives to foster a superior understanding of the heritage of the Smithsonian buildings through preservation, research and education. The many activities of this division can be separated into three primary areas of responsibility: architectural history, historic preservation and collections management.

AAHP occasionally offers internships for the study of the history and preservation of Smithsonian buildings. Some previous coursework or experience in architectural history, art history or historic preservation is required. Internships focus on the use of primary research materials. The goal will be to integrate original documentation such as correspondence and memoranda, architectural drawings, photographs and other materials into the architectural history of the Smithsonian. Preservation internships use similar research materials and methodology to address a specific preservation issue at the Smithsonian.

The format of the internship consists of full participation in the work of AHHP including staff meetings and research under the supervision of the staff. The internship requires a work plan and a written paper of 20 pages. AHHP will cooperate with faculty of a college or university to arrange for credit as an independent seminar if desired.

Archives of American Art

Since 1954, the Archives of American Art has collected roughly 16 million letters, photographs, diaries, oral history interviews, sketches, scrapbooks, business records, and other documents that support the study of the history of the visual arts in America.

The Archives of American Art internships encourage students to explore careers related to archival, information management, curatorial and art history fields.

Horticultural Services Division

Horticulture Services Division's mission is to create unique and awe inspiring horticultural displays at the Smithsonian Institution, using collections and plants to beautify; to support each museum's focus; and to educate its visitors and enhance their experience.

The Horticulture Services Division (HSD) was established in 1972 to manage the grounds of the Smithsonian Institution museums in Washington, D.C. and to develop specific interior and exterior spaces as horticulture exhibitions. In addition, a research and educational program promotes the ongoing development of collections of living plants, horticultural artifacts, and garden documentation

HSD provides an exceptionally well–rounded array of experiences in its intern program thanks to the diversity of services it offers to the Smithsonian, the world's largest museum complex. Interns will learn skills in a range of horticultural endeavors from Smithsonian expert professional staff who can provide a strong practical background to emerging professionals hoping to enter the public gardening world.

Office of Exhibits Central

The Office of Exhibits Central (OEC) supports Smithsonian museums and units in all aspects of exhibition design and production. All interns work under the guidance of OEC staff on current exhibit projects.

OEC is organized into six units: design/editing, graphics, fabrication, model–making, project management and administration. OEC projects are assigned to a project manager, who works with unit supervisors to assemble a team that works closely with clients to design and produce exhibits in accordance with the client's needs. Interns are assigned to work on tasks appropriate to their qualifications and talents.

Interns at OEC have the opportunity to exercise and strengthen their existing skills, to try out and develop new exhibit design and production skills, and to exercise responsibility, creativity and imagination within a supportive, encouraging environment.

Office of Facilities Management and Reliability

The Office of Facilities Management and Reliability (OFMR) operates and maintains the facilities of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., which attract more than 20 million visitors each year. OFMR also provides energy management, systems engineering, support services and facilities technology for Smithsonian facilities. The Smithsonian is the world's most unique research, exhibition and museum complex, and OFMR staff provide the environment that supports the staff and visitor experience.

OFMR accepts current and recently graduated undergraduate and graduate students studying facility management, engineering, business or other related fields. Selection is based on both an evaluation of the applicant's application and available positions.

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage is a research and educational unit of the Smithsonian Institution promoting the understanding and continuity of diverse, contemporary grassroots cultures in the United States and around the world.

Internships are offered year–round in various fields including cultural anthropology, folklore, ethnomusicology, museum studies, arts administration, graphic design, marketing and library science. Intern projects, conducted under the guidance of the center's professional staff, often center on research for, design and production of the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, educational outreach projects, video projects, or the Ralph Rinzler Archives.

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) leads the nation in research on linkages of land and water ecosystems in the coastal zone and provides society with knowledge to meet critical environmental challenges in the 21st century.

The SERC Internship Program offers students a unique opportunity to gain hands–on experience in environmental research and education. This program enables students to conduct research under the direction of SERC's professional staff and is tailored to provide the maximum educational benefit to each participant. SERC hosts an average of 60 interns every year.

Smithsonian Institution Libraries

The Smithsonian Institution Libraries are the most comprehensive museum library system in the world, supporting the vital research of the Smithsonian as well as the work of scientists and scholars near and far. Consisting of 20 branch libraries in Washington, D.C., Panama and New York, the collections are as diverse as the patrons it serves, with particular strengths in art and design, history and culture, and natural and physical sciences. The collection of 1.5 million printed books and manuscripts continues to grow, as does its digital content and electronic resources.

The Smithsonian Institution Libraries offer internship opportunities to students interested in exploring a library career in library and information science. Intern assignments may include a project or a structured practical experience. The libraries selects interns based on its needs and on the specific education, training, skills and interest of the applicant. Undergraduate interns receive an overview of library functions such as reference, circulation, acquisitions, cataloging, or preservation, and may assist in organizing collections, processing gift and exchange materials, or proofing and keying data.

Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute

The Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) is the center for specialized technical collections research and conservation for all Smithsonian museums and collections.

Fellowships and internships at MCI span a variety of academic disciplines. Whether the visitor is a fellow in materials science or conservation or an intern in conservation, students find a common thread—that the experience benefits their understanding of artifact characterization or preservation.

MCI offers fellowship and internship opportunities involving a variety of artifact analysis, preservation and conservation treatment specialties. MCI's commitment is to enhance the experience of the fellow or intern, providing specialized technical and scientific training. Such training contributes significantly to the qualifications of the students in their subsequent professional employment.