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Internship Projects

Internships with the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) are a unique opportunity to participate in the making of a new museum. Interns complete projects using the resources of NMAAHC and other Smithsonian Institution museums and offices. Internships are an opportunity for students to assist in the building of the museum's collections, exhibitions, and programs and to meet professionals in the museum field. Projects vary by department. Most projects provide interns with museum practice and program development experience; some projects are research oriented. Internships are offered based upon the availability of professional staff. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Curatorial Affairs Internship Projects

Cataloging and Meta Data

Interns assist the Registrar and Collections Managers on projects to create catalog records for and enhance records in the Museum’s Collection Information System, TMS, and for the Digital Assets Management System (DAMS). Tasks may involve creating inventories of collection items or digital assets; conducting research on collection items and on makers, authors, and artists of collection items; drafting content for TMS core fields; entering data into TMS; assisting with production of a guide to data and content standards; and assisting with reviewing records for accuracy.

Collection Preservation

Interns assist the Registrar and Collection Managers to process collections and prepare them for storage. Tasks may involve photographing collection items; assisting with condition reports; cleaning and numbering collection items; and assisting with rehousing and placing collection items in storage units.


Interns assist Curators and Historians with tasks related to collection acquisition, exhibitions, and specific research topics. Tasks may include conducting research for and preparing acquisition proposals; conducting research and assisting with the planning of the Museum’s pre-building and inaugural exhibitions; and conducting research on collection items and specific research topics.

Projecto Olokun Project

Projecto Olokun is a project conducted by NMAAHC and partnering organizations in Cuba including the Gabinete de Arqueología of the City of Havana Historian’s Office and the National Slave Route Museum/Castillo San Severino in the city of Matanzas. This project looks at the historical and cultural connections between the two countries related to the institution of slavery.

Primary intern tasks include:

  • Identifying, printing, and scanning (or gathering digital versions) of books, journal publications, congressional records, newspaper articles, and images on topics related to slave trade between US & Cuba, US landowners and business owners in Cuba during slavery period, US slave ship wrecks in Cuban waters, US foreign policy towards Cuba around this issue of slavery, and Afro-Cuban cultural diaspora to the US;
  • Completing an annotated bibliography of the above materials;
  • Managing the above collected documents so they can be shared with our Cuban partner organizations and deposited in NMAAHC archives;
  • Supporting general project needs as they arise.

*Spanish language skills would be very helpful but not necessary.

Education Internship Project

The intern will assist the members of the Education Department staff in one or more of the following areas: public programs, teacher and student programs, publications, audience evaluation, and technology and exhibition research. The intern must have solid computer and research skills, demonstrated initiative, and the ability to work independently.

Digital Internship

Our Digital Internship will provide interns with museum practice and digital program development experience, museum social media skills, writing for the web and online learning initiatives.

We currently have two openings for social media internships.

The social media intern will work with staff, fellow interns, guest bloggers, and others to pitch, frame, write, edit, design, and evaluate social media content for the museum.Primary intern tasks include:

  • Interacting with museum audiences across platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Vine and YouTube;
  • Producing writing and multimedia products that meet the high quality standards of the Smithsonian Institution;
  • Learning new technical skills as the new media landscape evolves;
  • Becoming familiar with museum education practices, how museums work and how this translates to online learning;
  • Interfacing effectively with many kinds of museum staff including curators, educators, exhibition designers and others;
  • Thinking strategically about museum messages and educational approaches;
  • Identifying collection photos that can be used for digital content;
  • Editing photos and social media copy;
  • Charting which topics generate the most online engagement by conducting a/b testing;
  • Adhering to a content calendar to schedule and post social media copy;
  • Building an archive of previously used content and themes;
  • Helping plan new content and strategy around the museum's grand opening.

Exhibition Design and Development Internship Project

The intern will assist in the planning and development of the museum’s ten inaugural exhibitions as well as pre-opening changing exhibitions at NMAAHC’s gallery located within the National Museum of American History (NMAH). Duties may include design research and planning, review and tracking of design deliverables (drawings, specifications, samples, etc.), visiting and critiquing exhibitions in other DC museums, assisting with the installation of changing exhibitions as NMAH, and meeting with suppliers and manufacturers of design-related products and services.

The intern will work closely with and be supervised by the NMAAHC Chief of Design.

Media Relations Project

The intern will assist the Media Relations Officer in all facets of a busy media office. Under supervision, the intern will write press releases and media advisories. The intern may be given some writing assignments for the Smithsonian employee newspaper, the Torch. Other support duties include compiling mailing lists, faxing and copying press releases, maintaining media files and producing press kits. The intern must have solid computer and research skills, demonstrated initiative and the ability to work independently.