The Internship Program provides educational opportunities for students interested in the museum profession and related fields. Interns complete projects using the resources of the National Museum of the American Indian (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. Applicants should indicate three departments of interest: for example, Public Affairs, Publications, or Collections Management. Approximately twenty-five percent of applicants are accepted for internships during any one-year period. Internships range from six to ten weeks with the exception of the Six-Month Pre-Program Conservation Internship. For more information on Conservation internships, visit Conservation Training. For information about all other internships, see descriptions below or email NMAIinterns@si.edu or call 202-633-6645.
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
How To Apply
Students who are currently enrolled in an academic program, or who have graduated within six months of the start of the internship session, are eligible to apply. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or its equivalent is generally expected (with withdrawals and incompletes explained). Students not receiving a stipend have the ability to work a minimum of twenty hours per week.
All applicants should 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 application materials required for NMAI internships are to be uploaded via SOLAA:
- 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 your referees to confidentially upload their letter into your application.
Notification about placement takes place 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
Travel, housing, and stipends may be provided to students on a limited basis. Students receiving stipends must work full time (forty hours per week).
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.
Please note: Applications may not be dropped off at the museums' main information desks. While hand-delivered applications will not be rejected, museum staff cannot guarantee or assume responsibility for their proper delivery to the intern coordinator.
THE NMAI CULTURAL RESOURCES CENTER IN MARYLAND
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:
The Collections Information program supports efforts to enhance and increase the accessibility of information about the museum’s collections. As the NMAI is responsible for caring for the physical collections, it is also responsible for preserving the rich context and stories that those collections tell. Interns in the Collections Information area help develop data standards for the collections database, participate in data entry enhancement projects, and assist with collections information inquiries. Interns learn standards in preserving collections documentation generated for museum projects and preparing basic collections information for public access. Students interested in information management and databases in the museum field are encouraged to apply.
Collection Management interns participate in the day-to-day management of the museum’s collections. Through work with new accessions, interns learn the techniques and materials used to move, handle, track, support, and shelve ethnographic and archaeological objects. Interns also assist Photo Services staff in photographing new accessions. Interns include an introduction to the Integrated Pest Management Program, use of the collections database, environmental monitoring, and assisting researchers and NMAI curators in the use of the collections. Students interested in Native American studies, Native American art, museum studies, anthropology, and related fields are encouraged to apply.
Registration interns participate in the day-to-day processing of all collections acquired via gift or purchase, including object handling, packing, unpacking, cataloging, condition reporting, and photography. Through work with new accessions, interns learn the techniques and materials used to create ethnographic and contemporary works of art. Interns also assist in the loan process, learning how the museum makes decisions for those wanting to borrow objects from the collection, thus gaining an understanding of the standards the NMAI requires for loans of collections objects. Interns will also work with the annual inventory, actively verifying object locations, descriptions, item counts, and physical numbers. Interns may also participate in the installation of upcoming exhibitions as needed and when available. Interns will assist Photo Services staff (as object handlers) in photographing new accessions as required. Interns include an introduction to the Integrated Pest Management Program, and basic training and use of the collections database. Students interested in a hands-on work environment, Native American studies, Native American art, museum studies, anthropology, art history, and related fields are encouraged to apply.
Registration Inventory Project: Interns on this project perform tasks involved with a problem collection inventory. The NMAI has more than 5,000 items that are held in collections but are not accessioned. The goal of this project is to identify, image, catalog, and label objects held as fragments, registration problems, unaccessioned material, frauds, and plaster casts. The ultimate goal is to have a completely cataloged group of objects in the museum’s EMu database so that this material is searchable and available to all database users. Interns learn to identify problem items and help to collect and record information for entry into the database. They receive training in searching and reviewing collection via the EMu database, and also learn to handle objects, including hands-on training from the Conservation Office. Interns work directly with the collection and learn to use and assign barcodes to track the collection. They receive training in and are expected to use the PDT 3100 scanners to track object locations, and are expected to organize and manage an inventory log to track all problem objects. Heavy lifting is required as well as the ability to stand for long periods.
The National Museum of the American Indian Act of 1989 mandates that Smithsonian museums create and follow a repatriation policy. The NMAI Repatriation Office is charged with returning Native American human remains as well as funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimonial from the NMAI collections to claimant tribes and individuals. Interns assist staff in a variety of tasks including research, object inventories, database updates, and archival and administrative projects. Through these tasks, interns become familiar with repatriation legislation and practice as well as methods for consultation with contemporary tribes. Applicants will preferably be familiar with Microsoft Office and collections or database software. Students interested in anthropology, archaeology, Native American studies, museum studies, law, and related fields are encouraged to apply.
Research on exhibitions focused on Indigenous Latin America
The NMAI’s mandate defines "American Indian" to include the nations and cultures of indigenous Latin America. The museum's research staff has philosophical, historical, and cultural awareness of Latin American themes and adheres to careful protocols of diplomatic contact. NMAI research staff are currently working on several projects for which interns who demonstrate knowledge of indigenous cultures in Latin America and who have proficiency in speaking/reading/writing Spanish may be selected to contribute: Caribbean Taino, Inka Road, Ceramics of Central America, and Mayan Migration, among others. Interns in these areas assist with the launch of transcending exhibition and research projects.
Research on exhibitions focused on Indigenous peoples in the United States
Interns are needed to support research for upcoming exhibitions on the Northeast Woodlands, Navajo jewelry, boarding schools, Inka Road, Central American Ceramics, and treaties. Interns on these projects assist with research that may support related programming, seminars and symposia, and publications.
Technology interns 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 IN 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, ceremonies, 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 Interpreter (CI) Program promotes interest in American Indian heritage, culture, history, and the NMAI’s collection by delivering interpretive programs such as tours, demonstrations, and hands-on activities for visitors. Interns in the CI program work with the CI Education Teaching Collection Team 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 researching and developing 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.
Engineering Assistant (summer-only internship)
Under the direction of Senior Design and/or Senior Construction personnel, interns participate in the handling, reviewing, archiving, and or filing of architectural and engineering drawings and related documents for projects managed by the Office of Engineering Design and Construction. Summer interns are introduced to design management and construction management through attendance in progress meetings, project site visits, punch list preparation, posting requests for information, and constructability review comment posting.
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 endowment, programming, and the development operations of the museum. Units that fall under OMA's direction are Development, Membership, Public Affairs, and Special Events.
Development: Interns in Development assist staff in the daily operations of national-level fundraising, and learn to work with Raisers Edge, known to be one of the best fundraising and prospect research tools in use. Interns assist in developing comprehensive 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.
Membership: Interns in Membership assist staff in daily activities, which include developing comprehensive marketing and telemarketing plans, advertising, product sales, and other outreach methods to raise funds that will help the NMAI fulfill its mission.
Public Affairs: Interns in Public Affairs assist in the day-to-day media operations of the NMAI, including the News Bureau, Speakers Bureau, and media event planning. Tasks include working with public affairs staff to update media databases, pitch media stories, distribute press releases, monitor news coverage, and assemble clipping reports. Interns also write follow-up correspondence for both media and general public requests and assist with photo needs, including shooting, selecting, captioning, and distributing images. This internship is ideal for students majoring in journalism, public affairs, public/media relations, marketing, or advertising.
Special Events: Interns in Special Events assist in the coordination of internal and external events, which help generate revenue and increase public outreach for the NMAI, as well as in the management of the museum’s master calendar, which reserves spaces for special events, public programs, and staff functions. Projects include assisting with Board of Trustees meetings and the NMAI’s Inaugural Ball.
The NMAI Publications Office seeks to augment awareness of indigenous beliefs and lifeways, and to educate the public about the history and significance of indigenous cultures, through a successful synthesis of indigenous perspectives, first-rate scholarship, and compelling design. Interns learn about the editorial and print production processes through research, writing, and editing books, articles, brochures, and other printed or electronic materials in support of the museum’s exhibitions, programs, and scholarship.
The NMAI's upcoming exhibition, Treaties: Great Nations in Their Own Words, tells the history of diplomatic relations between the U.S. government and tribal nations, from early contact through today. Topics of the exhibition include broken treaties, survival, modern treaty making, governance, and how these relationships survived, changed, and work in today’s world. In a larger context, the exhibition is about Native culture and the future of Native peoples.
Three interns are needed for this project. Two of the interns will work alongside NMAI curatorial and other project staff to organize oral histories by reviewing, classifying, and writing short synopses of interviews. One intern will research maps from early treaty making to today. Information gathered by the interns will be reviewed by the curators and then classified and indexed. The interns will also assist in adding their research into a system for retrieval by members of the project team.
Safety, Occupational Health and Sustainability
Interns in this program participate in the inspection of museum facilities and operations, equipment, hazardous materials and safety devices and will learn about compliance with required workplace safety standards, regulations, and training programs. Interns also participate in some but not all of the following: sustainability programs, reviewing inspection reports and recommended changes to establish safe and/or sustainable work environment; devising special fire protection measures, recycling and energy conservation, and monitor changes and/or make follow-up inspections.
Interns also participate in the evaluation of the safety and occupational health program spanning the total museum environment, including galleries, workshops, collections area, conservation area, storage areas, offices, mechanical spaces, retail shops, and eating facilities.
THE NMAI GEORGE GUSTAV HEYE CENTER IN NEW YORK
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. The following list provides a general overview of the ongoing work of departments at the Heye Center, 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 Interpreter (CI) Program promotes interest in American Indian heritage, culture, history, and the NMAI’s collection by delivering interpretive programs such as tours, demonstrations, and hands-on activities for visitors. Interns in the CI program work with the CI Education Teaching Collection Team 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 researching and developing working documents to be used in training and facilitation for staff and future volunteers. Interns will also develop a “cultural presentation” on a community and present it to Education staff.
Film and Video
Film and Video interns assist in offering screenings and other public presentations, information services, and research about films, video, radio, television, and new media produced by and about indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere and Hawai‘i. Applicants who have an ongoing research interest or experience in media production in film, radio, or the Internet are encouraged to apply.
Visitor Services interns facilitate visitation and maintain a welcoming environment in and around the Heye Center. Working closely with museum staff and volunteers, interns provide visitor orientation prior to entry, assist staff in responding to visitor needs and inquiries throughout the building, and impart information that reflects Native perspectives and sensitivities. Additionally, interns assist with the Infinity of Nations exhibition audio guide station, work on outreach to Smithsonian constituents, and help track print production within the museum. Students interested in museum or visitor studies are encouraged to apply.