The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) Internship Program provides educational opportunities for students interested in the museum profession and related fields. Interns complete projects using the resources of the NMAI and other Smithsonian offices. Internships are an opportunity for students to learn about the museum’s collections, exhibitions, programs, and methodologies, and to meet professionals in the museum field.
Interns are selected by a review committee made up of five NMAI staff. Approximately twenty-five percent of applicants are accepted for internships during any one-year period.
Internship projects for all internships at the NMAI, except in Conservation, are listed below. To apply for an internship in NMAI Conservation, visit Conservation Training.
Information on additional fellowship and internship opportunities across the Smithsonian, including those designed specifically for Native Americans, is available via the links below.
Ten-Week Internship Session Start Dates:
Spring: Starting third full week of March
Summer: Starting first full week of June
Fall: Starting last full week of September
For each internship term, applications must be submitted electronically by the following dates:
Winter/Spring term: November 20
Summer: February 6
Fall: July 12
What are the eligibility requirements?
If you are currently enrolled in an academic program you are eligible to apply.
If you are not a current student then you may still apply, but you will need to use the essay portion of the application to state how an internship in the particular department you select will benefit your academic and professional goals.
A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or its equivalent is generally expected (with withdrawals and incompletes explained).
All applicants must register and submit an online application via the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment system (SOLAA). Select "National Museum of the American Indian" from the drop-down program list.
All components of the application that are required for NMAI internships must be uploaded via SOLAA. Do not send components separately.
- Online application
- Statement of interest: questions to address are on the application
- Transcripts (unofficial are preferred)
- CV or résumé
- Two letters of recommendation: SOLAA system allows references to confidentially upload letters into your application.
When will I know if my application has been accepted?
Notification about placement occurs four to six weeks after the deadline. If sooner notification is needed, please contact the Intern Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-633-6645.
Is there financial support (i.e., a stipend) for this internship?
Yes, stipends may be provided to students whose applications are submitted on time and who are accepted into the program. Students receiving stipends must intern full-time (forty hours per week). Per Smithsonian Institution regulations, stipend amounts can typically range from $1000 to $4000 for a ten-week session. The amount of the stipend depends on the amount of funds available and is at the discretion of the NMAI. Students who live in the Washington, D.C., region may receive a stipend that will offset the costs of commuting—approximately $500–$1000 for a ten-week session.
Do I have to be Native American?
No! The internship program is open to anyone.
Do you accept applications from international students?
Yes! We accept applications from international students. The Smithsonian’s Office of International Relations will work with you on a visa, if necessary, after you are accepted into the program. Unfortunately, international students may experience delays in stipends and receiving an ID badge due to Smithsonian security and banking requirements.
The Smithsonian Institution welcomes the opportunity to work cooperatively with schools seeking to grant academic credit for internships. Applicants are encouraged to initiate arrangements for credit with their colleges or universities. The Smithsonian does not grant academic credit.
How competitive is the process and what makes a strong application?
The internship program is very competitive, especially in the summer. In general, strong applications demonstrate applicants’ academic and professional goals, interest in the particular department selected, and reason for wanting to be at the NMAI. During an internship at the NMAI, you will spend ten weeks in one department only. If you want to gain a lot of experience in a specific aspect of museum work, then this internship will work for you.
If there are further questions, please email email@example.com or call 202-633-6645.
The Smithsonian does not discriminate on grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, parental status, marital status, sexual orientation, or participation in protected activity.
INTERNSHIP PROJECT DESCRIPTIONS BY LOCATION
THE NMAI CULTURAL RESOURCES CENTER
4220 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746-2863
Located just outside of Washington, D.C., the Cultural Resources Center (CRC) houses the NMAI’s collection of more than 800,000 objects, representing indigenous cultures throughout the Americas. The following list provides a general overview of the ongoing work of departments within the CRC as well as associated internship opportunities. When you begin the application process, a drop-down menu will allow you to select from the choices that are currently available.
Archive Center internships provide students with the opportunity to learn about and contribute to the physical and intellectual arrangement, description, and preservation of the NMAI’s archival collections. Intern projects may include processing manuscript, photo, audiovisual, or mixed-media collections, writing and editing finding aids and collections records, conducting condition assessments, and providing reference services. Interns may author finding aids in Archivists’ Toolkit, write collection records for inclusion in the Smithsonian’s online MARC database, and write blog posts about their experiences or collections they encounter. Students interested in library science, history of photography, Native American studies, anthropology, and related fields are encouraged to apply.
Technology internships provide students with an opportunity to gain valuable experience working alongside information technology staff in support of the museum’s Internet and intranet websites, applications, and technological infrastructure. Whether running the technology-based audiovisual and theater operations in the NMAI’s exhibitions, supporting database application systems, or developing web pages and multimedia projects, interns enhance their skills in network operations, communications services, desktop support, information resource management planning, system development lifecycle management, web content management, or web design. Students studying information technology, electronic communications, telecommunication, or web development are encouraged to apply.
THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Fourth Street and Independence Ave., SW
P.O. Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012
Opened on the National Mall on September 21, 2004, the National Museum of the American Indian is a major exhibition space for Native art and material culture as well as a center for educational activities and performances. The following list provides a general overview of the ongoing work of departments within the NMAI, Washington, D.C., as well as associated internship opportunities. When you begin the application process, a drop-down menu will allow you to select from the choices that are currently available.
The Cultural Arts department plans and implements all aspects of the museum’s programs calendar. In collaboration with other NMAI departments, Smithsonian museums, Washington, D.C., embassies, and national and international Native American communities, NMAI programs support and enhance the museum by bringing in Native artisans and cultural demonstrators to share the cultures of diverse Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere with the museum’s visitors. Cultural Arts interns learn about Native cultures, the history and mission of the museum, and details of museum programming, from research and outreach to documentation and implementation, within a team-oriented environment. Cultural Arts interns engage with artists and museum visitors to share what they learn about the history and ongoing activities of the museum, and learn program operations, develop logical solutions for hands-on activities, and archive Cultural Arts program records.
The Cultural Interpreter (CI) Program promotes interest in American Indian heritage, culture, history, and the NMAI's collection by delivering interpretive programs to the visiting public with an emphasis on serving K–12 school audiences. Interns in the CI program will assist in the research, testing, and development of dynamic and engaging school programs for the public. Interns gain experience in museum education practices, interpreting Native cultures, utilizing a handling collection, and researching and developing working documents to be used in training and facilitation for staff and future volunteers.
Interns in Development assist staff in the daily operations of national-level fundraising, and learn to work with the museum’s fundraising database, PANDA. Interns learn how to conduct research for prospective donors and grants, and assist in developing solicitation plans for exhibitions, festivals, educational programs, and endowments. Interns also learn about NMAI outreach initiatives to Native communities across the Americas, and about special projects.
Exhibition design interns participate in the behind-the-scenes work of developing and planning exhibitions. Most of this work takes place long before any artifacts are installed. Exhibitions internships may include research, fact checking, planning and coordination, assembling visual resources, and other steps that contribute to an exhibit design. While interns may be assigned to a specific exhibit, multiple exhibits are at different stages of development simultaneously, and interns may be able to participate in other stages in the process. Students of Museum Studies and design-related fields such as Exhibition Design, Interior Design, Industrial Design, or Graphic Design may benefit from this opportunity. Experience in 3D modeling, CAD drafting, or graphic design is desirable but not necessary. Computer proficiency is required. You may be asked to provide examples of your design or creative work.
Executive Planning Office
The Executive Planning Office (EPO) facilitates the NMAI's most complex and high profile projects including major exhibitions, sponsored programs, building renovations, large object loans, and public art installations. Project managers work across the various units of the museum on the coordination of time, personnel, and potentially large financial resources, given a project's multi-faceted components. In addition, they work to address legal implications of project work such as copyright and contractual obligations. Internships in the EPO offer an opportunity to learn more about the integration of work across diverse areas such as conservation, education, media, and with other units across the Smithsonian. There is a strong emphasis on strategic planning, team leadership, and the tools available for project managers to succeed. An internship experience in the EPO will explore general museum operations and the project planning process, and is best suited for those students interested in pursuing the fields of museum or non-profit management, project management in museums, and legal issues in museum administration.
Film and Video
Film and Video interns assist in offering screenings and other public presentations, information services, and research about indigenous media makers of the Western Hemisphere and Hawai‘i. Applicants who have an ongoing research interest or experience in media production for film, radio, or the Internet are encouraged to apply.
imagiNATIONS Activity Center
The interactive, family-friendly imagiNATIONS Activity Center provides visitors of all ages a multitude of unique learning experiences. Native peoples have long used the natural environments around them to meet their needs, and many of their innovations and inventions are part of daily life for millions today. Visitors to the center can explore some of these ingenious adaptations through a variety of hands-on activities. Interns in the Activity Center work with the public, and with the education teaching collection teams to develop, plan, and archive teaching lessons and research cultural objects. Research benefits the development of family activity products that will be tested with the public. Interns gain experience working with hands-on activities and other similar interpretation venues, and research and develop working documents to be used in training and facilitation for staff and future volunteers. Interns also develop a “cultural presentation” on a community and present it to Education staff.
Webcasting NMAI Programs: Interns work with Media staff to support the webcasting of public programs at the NMAI Mall museum. Interns learn aspects of high-definition webcasting including set-up, editing, posting to the Web, and archiving. Interns support webcasts and learn how to independently set up and operate a webcast session. This is an exciting opportunity for students who want to learn about this area of high-definition production integral to the museum’s event documentation and distribution. Since many events occur on weekends and evenings, a flexible schedule is required. Additional museum production assistance for non-webcast production is also part of this assignment.
The Office of Museum Advancement (OMA) manages the NMAI’s nationwide fundraising program for the endowment, programming, and development operations of the museum. Units that fall under OMA's direction are Development, Membership, Public Affairs, and Special Events.
Interpretive Program interns gain broad experience in the best practices of program development and implementation methodology and techniques and how these are used to plan programming at the NMAI on the National Mall. Interns participate in prototyping and evaluating new interpretive programs, and interact daily with senior staff, Interpretation staff, student visitors, and the general public.
THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN, NEW YORK
GEORGE GUSTAV HEYE CENTER
One Bowling Green
New York, NY 10004
The George Gustav Heye Center (GGHC) opened in 1994 in the newly renovated Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in lower Manhattan. The Heye Center features temporary exhibitions and a range of public programs.
Due to building renovations and limited staffing at the NMAI-NY, internships in the following areas are available intermittently: Contemporary Native Art, Public Affairs and Education.
Please contact the intern coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about internships at the NMAI-NY.