Robert Frederick Smith Center Internship and Fellowship Program

Female intern sits in archives and reviews historic documents.

2019 intern hosted by the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

Justin Merriman for NMAAHC

The Museum's Center for the Digitization and Curation of African American History, funded by Robert F. Smith, was established to advance digital curation, community outreach, and internship initiatives at the Museum. As part of the Robert F. Smith Internship and Fellowship Program, the Museum supports paid internships at the Museum in Washington, DC as well as at select African American museums, art galleries and museums of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, cultural institutions and historic sites, or other related institutions with projects dedicated to the study and preservation of African American history and culture.

Applications for the Applied Public History Fellowship for HBCU Graduates are due by 11:59 p.m. January 15, 2022. Learn more about eligibility and application requirements.

Applications for 2022 Robert F. Smith Internships are due by 11:59 p.m. February 15, 2022. Learn more about internship eligibility and application requirements.

Please sign up for the e-mail list to be notified when internship and fellowship opportunities are announced.

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Smithsonian Institution: Interpreting African American History & Culture Workshop 

Group photo of NMAAHC interpretation cohort members holding up signs

2020 Workshop Information:
January 26 – February 1, 2020
James Island County Park - Charleston, SC

Program Overview

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), Office of Strategic Partnerships, in collaboration with Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC), is pleased to offer a professional development opportunity in Interpretive Training for museum professionals dedicated to the study or appreciation of the African Diaspora and African American life, art, history, and/or culture. The workshop is geared towards museum professionals who are engaged in historical and cultural interpretation or a closely related field, with career aspirations that involve the field of interpretation. The goal of the program is to recognize professionals with the potential to make the greatest contributions to their museum or historic site in the field of interpretation by providing them access to resources, training in the ethical interpretation of history and ongoing opportunities for continued engagement in a community of practice. The program additionally addresses the need for greater diversity in the field of interpretation.

Participants who successfully complete the 32-hour Interpretation Workshop will receive National Association for Interpretation (NAI) certification. Interested applicants should be advised that the workshop is an immersive experience with prerequisite reading assignments, to be completed in advance of the workshop as well as study hours and homework, to be completed in the evening hours. Participants will be required to complete an open book multiple-choice literature review, prepare a presentation outline, and present a 10-minute thematic interpretive presentation based on some aspect of African American history and culture on the final day of the workshop. In addition to the 32-hour certification training curriculum, the workshop will include approximately 18 hours visiting and analyzing the interpretation of African American history and culture, including methodology, utilized at a variety of historic sites in the local Charleston area.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Beginning with the incoming Class of 2020, eligibility requirements for participation have been extended to all museum professionals engaged in the field of interpretation or a related field, with at least 2 years of professional museum experience.
  • Students strictly enrolled in full-time academic programs, without any affiliated and/or current museum work are not eligible.


The workshop will be held Sunday, January 26 through Saturday, February 1, 2020 at James Island County Park in Charleston, SC. Tuition to attend the workshop is $1,250 per person and includes the workshop itself and all materials; NAI Certification Fees; admission and transportation to all offsite excursions in Charleston; breakfast and lunch throughout the week, as well as dinner on the first and last nights; 6-nights, shared accommodations in two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites at the Residence Inn by Marriott Charleston Downtown/Riverview and daily shuttle service to/from the workshop site at James Island County Park.

Scholarship Opportunities

Thanks to the generosity of program sponsors—National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), Association of African American Museums (AAAM), Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC) and the National Park Service (NPS), there are a number of scholarships available for both travel and/or tuition. See eligibility requirements below under each opportunity.

  • National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC): Need-based scholarship open to all applicants regardless of membership affiliation. Scholarship includes tuition assistance and invitational travel to/from Charleston, SC. Smithsonian Institution employees are not eligible.
  • Association of African American Museums (AAAM): Scholarship open exclusively to AAAM individual and institutional members. Must have an active membership to apply. Scholarship includes tuition assistance and invitational travel to/from Charleston, SC. AAAM board officers, committee members, and members of their families are not eligible.
  • Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC): Scholarship open exclusively to SEMC individual and institutional members. Must have an active membership to apply. Scholarship covers tuition only. SEMC board officers, committee members, and members of their families are not eligible.
  • National Park Service (NPS): Stephen T. Mather Training Center scholarship open to current employees of NPS. Scholarship includes tuition assistance and invitational travel to/from Charleston, SC.

How to Apply

The application process for the Class of 2020 is now open. Download the Interpretation Fellows Announcement to learn more. Please note that all application materials (and scholarship request, if applicable) must be combined into one PDF File and uploaded through the online application form. Completed applications must be received by 11:59 PM on Friday, November 1, 2019.

Required Materials:

  • Online application form
  • Applicant resume or CV (3-page maximum)
  • Letter of recommendation from immediate supervisor/director
  • Statement of interest: Please share your interest in attending the interpretation workshop and how you and your institution will benefit from your attendance at the workshop (i.e. any special project(s) and/or workplace challenges you are hoping to address. 500-word maximum)
  • Personal vision statement: Please share how you will apply newly acquired interpretation tools/skills at your institution and/or personal interpretation. (500-word maximum)


  • Scholarship Request Form (Located on last page of Interpretation Fellows Announcement)

If you wish to apply for an available scholarship, please indicate which scholarship fund(s) you are applying for (NMAAHC, AAAM, SEMC and/or NPS). Follow the instructions and eligibility requirements above. Please note that only one scholarship can be awarded per applicant.

Applicants will be notified by Wednesday, November 15, 2019 of the program committee’s decisions.


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To explore a partnership with our office, please use our online form to submit your questions.