Internships & Fellowships

Internships at the National Museum of African American History and Culture offer college and graduate students and recent graduates opportunities to work closely with professionals and scholars in the museum field. The museum provides a dynamic learning environment and access to supportive mentors that help interns reach their educational and professional goals. Interns can gain practical museum skills and program development experience in a variety of positions from education to collections to public relations.

When applying via SOLAA, please mention the specific opportunity that interests you in your application essay. Learn about the application process. Some internships offer stipends, see details in the opportunities tab below. 

Summer 2018 applications are due by 11:59 p.m. March 15, 2018.

The Robert Frederick Smith Fund for the Digitization and Curation of African American History will support three internships at the Museum for Summer 2018. The Museum offers these internships to increase participation of groups who are underrepresented in the museum field. The program provides undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to learn more about the museum field through direct experience in internship projects under the mentorship of Museum staff.

Smith Fund internships are 12 weeks (35-40 hours per week) and paid a stipend of $600 per week. Need-based housing and transportation stipends are also available. Individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.

Learn more about the Robert Frederick Smith Fund internship program benefits.


Contribute significantly to the creation, management, and distribution of the museum’s digital image assets and gain a thorough understanding about the integration of digital assets into various Smithsonian computer systems. The selected intern will have the opportunity to enhance their digital skills, build a professional network, and pursue mentorships within the Smithsonian Institution while gaining skills in myriad fields. At the conclusion of the program, the intern will have completed a comprehensive project that will enrich their portfolios, resumes, and understanding of initiatives undertaken at the museum to further the Smithsonian’s Digitization Strategic Plan.

Sample of Intern Duties:

  • Train to use TMS (The Museum System) collection information system database
  • Utilize museum cataloging standards to work on collection records
  • Conduct research needed to create and enhance collection records
  • Create collection inventories
  • Re-house objects as needed
  • Photograph objects
  • Manage digital assets in multiple platforms
  • Attend team meetings
  • Write a collection story or blog post

Learning Outcomes:

  • Working knowledge of how to use TMS (The Museum System) collection information system database
  • Experience with collections information research and management
  • Direct experience handling objects
  • Digital imaging and content management skills
  • Digital asset management skills
  • Gain an overview of copyright law and permissible uses of museum collection images
  • Understand how to integrate digital assets into various computer systems

Time Frame (flexible): early June start date
Prerequisites: Interest or background in African American history and cultural studies. Prior experience in digitization is not required.

Integrated Marketing Media

The Office of Strategic Partnerships (OSP) focuses its work on the diversification and professional development of the museum workforce as well as provide support and resources to build organizational capacity among its sister institutions to sustain and grow all those African American and African diaspora organizations who also share and preserve African American history and culture.

The selected intern will work across departments to develop and produce the department’s inaugural podcast. The podcast will focus on the OSP Museum Interpretation Program. In addition to working with a working group within OSP, the intern will engage with the Office of Information and Technology (IT) and a production team.

Sample of Intern Duties:

  • Conduct research to understand the OSP program and initiatives to be used as the focus of the podcast
  • Participate in the development of the framework and focus of the single podcast
  • Coordinate with OSP working group to schedule interviews for those participating in the podcast
  • Assist in the scripting of the podcast segment; six to seven-minute product
  • Work with the production team and systems engineers during the recording phase
  • With support from the IT team, host the finished podcast on the NMAAHC-OSP webpage
  • Contribute to the development of a communications/marketing plan to promote the podcast

Learning Outcomes:

  • Participate in the creation of a podcast from inception to completion
  • Understand process for identifying a theme or angle for a podcast of interest to an identified target audience
  • Increase skills in script writing for online audio production
  • Learn about the management of project partners and cross-departmental collaboration
  • Gain experience with audio recording and editing software
  • Gain experience with website content management systems

Time Frame (flexible): early June start date
Prerequisites: Interest or background in African American history and cultural studies.

Web Content

Understand the museum’s website, plan content, and edit museum features on a rolling basis. The web content intern will play a key role in maintaining the museum’s digital-first strategy. The intern plays a key role in ensuring that the website is up to date and reflecting the museum's overarching strategy. The intern will also gain exposure to the subtleties of web writing, editing, and planning as he or she organizes content requests for the web. 

Sample of Intern Duties:

  • Support the web content manager in making updates to the website
  • Suggest new content ideas based on upcoming exhibitions
  • Review peer websites to assess where the museum can improve
  • Edit existing content on the site
  • Prepare regular reports on the site's performance

Learning Outcomes:

  • Learn to edit and build pages using Drupal, one of the most commonly used content management systems in the nonprofit sector
  • Understand best practices for planning web and digital content
  • Understand how to plan digital content for exhibitions and public programs
  • Understand how to prepare and assess digital websites

Time Frame (flexible): early June start date
Prerequisites: Interest or background in African American history and cultural studies. Preference will be given to applicants with prior experience with Drupal and photo editing.

The Smithsonian Institution is pleased to announce conservation internship opportunities for the Summer 2018 10-week session June 4 – August 10.

This internship program will provide an introduction to museum conservation. This program is offered to students to increase participation of groups who are currently underrepresented in the museum field and visual arts organizations are especially encouraged to apply.

A conservator’s work involves the preservation of collections, including documentation, treatment, and research. Conservators have academic backgrounds in the arts, sciences or social sciences and attain a professional graduate degree in conservation. For more information about the field see: American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC): About Conservation


  • Gain multi-disciplinary experiences in the conservation of objects, paintings, textiles, paper, time-based media, and/or other materials.
  • Exposure to the most advanced technology in the field of museum conservation.
  • Attend weekly intern seminars (10 total) curated by institutional experts on art, conservation, and diversity issues to ensure that interns receive educational experiences for museum conservation practices, industry standards, and educational requirements.
  • Learning experiences through opportunities to co-work and through connecting with peers.

WHO SHOULD APPLY: Currently enrolled undergraduates or recent degree holders from HBCUs, colleges and universities, with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, with coursework in the sciences (chemistry, biology, physics, engineering, forensic science); or arts and humanities (studio arts, art history, history, anthropology); and skills such as photography/imaging; or various crafts that might be applicable/useful in a museum conservation setting, and an interest in the conservation of cultural heritage are encouraged to apply. Applicants must be U.S. citizens.

INTERNSHIP LOCATIONS: Placements will be made in Conservation Departments at the: Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute, National Museum of American Indian, National Museum of American History, Freer-Sackler Galleries of Art, National Museum of Natural History, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The 10-week internships will commence June 4th and end August 10th.  They will be full-time (40 hrs/week) and carry a stipend. Travel allowance may be included.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Midnight (EST), March 15, 2018 for all materials including letters of reference.

Application Procedure: Applicants must register and submit an online application via the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment system (SOLAA). After registering, sign onto the SOLAA system. At the top of the screen, select “Start your Application”; Select “Internship” and “Smithsonian Institution Undergraduate Conservation Program” from the drop-down program lists. Within the application you will identify which Smithsonian Unit(s) you are interested in joining for the conservation internship.

Application requirements via SOLAA

  • An essay addressing the following (no more than three pages total):
    • A statement of your interest in an internship at the desired Smithsonian Conservation Unit and what you hope to gain from the experience. Please state how you found out about the internship.
    • Please discuss the impact that a funded internship would have on you and your education.
    • Provide a short biography describing your background, personal history, interests and major/minor (if declared).
  • Curriculum Vitae or Resume
  • Undergraduate transcripts (unofficial)
  • Names and email address of two professional references (1 must be academic)

Smithsonian Institution Undergraduate Conservation Internship Program Administrator
Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of African American History and Culture
PO Box 37012, MRC 1401
Washington D.C., 20013-7012

Media Conservation Internship

The museum’s founding collection numbers over 35,000 objects, with the Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Art serving as the locus for moving image & recorded sound collections and programming. The CAAMA internship in Media Conservation is designed to provide an integrated and meaningful hands-on, research and conservation-oriented 10-week experience working with both physical and born-digital collections in preparation for ongoing exhibitions, educational events, public screenings, and collections care. As such, the scope of the internship is broad so curatorial staff, current media conservation staff, and archival staff will mentor the successful candidate. The ideal candidate will be passionate about media conservation and preservation, cinema programming, scholarly research, digital media technologies, audiovisual and photographic archival materials, and creative curatorial approaches to cultural storytelling. This internship offers a stipend.

Internship experiences:

  • Assist curatorial and media conservation staff in researching historical background, rights restrictions, and uniqueness of NMAAHC media collections items;
  • Curatorial staff will mentor intern on conservation, arrangement, and description of audiovisual and photographic collections and archival materials, with specific tasks to include: cataloging and intellectual control, condition assessment and rehousing, and, digitization of analog materials;
  • Gain hands-on experience with technician services related to the Great Migration weekly public digitization appointments at the museum;
  • Draft and edit texts relating to collections and exhibitions;
  • Support the film programming and exhibition activities related to the museum’s Smithsonian African American Film Festival (to be held in October 2018);
  • Assist in the creation and production of limited digital content to showcase collections and museum programs, online.

Center for Study of Global Slavery Internship

This curatorial internship will work engage with the center for the study of global slavery in its goals on making the history and impact of slavery, the slave trade and resistance to it more visible in public life.

Internship experiences:

  • Assist with content research for exhibitions in development including research on objects, images and archives
  • Developing press ready material for web and print based sources
  • Supporting center's two major collaborative initiatives: the Slave Wrecks Project and the Global Curatorial Project
  • Supporting communications with international collaborators

Graphic Design Internship

This internship is located in the Office of Public Affairs at NMAAHC. It provides hands-on experience developing creative assets visually representing NMAAHC programs and initiatives across all communications channels including print, social media web and in-house graphics.

Regular activities will include the ideation, planning, design and production of advertising, branding and marketing products for NMAAHC including, but not limited to: special event programs and flyers, marketing and promotional assets for social media, signage, advertisements, publications, infographics, brochures, multimedia, photo and video presentations. The internship is part time at 15 -20 hours per week. If available, you may include samples of your graphic design work when you submit your application. This internship offers a stipend.

Internship experiences:

  • Participating on a team of staff and volunteers to translate messaging concepts into engaging marketing materials.
  • Designing clear, engaging and compelling print and online graphic products including advertisements (print, online, social media), signage, posters, flyers, and other marketing materials.
  • Learning principles of advertising, branding and marketing
  • Project Management
  • Balancing independent projects with team projects
  • Writing advertisement and marketing copy
  • Graphic asset archive management
  • Photo and video archive management
  • Increase skillset with Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop 

Public Affairs Intern

Public Affairs Intern will propose creative ideas to and contribute to office on the Office of Public Affairs. The intern will gain visibility into the inner workings and aspects of the Office of Public Affairs in the National Museum of African American History and Culture. When the internship is completed, intern will feel confident and ready to enter any fast-paced PR firm. Public Affair interns will develop verbal, written, and professional skills and understand what makes compelling news. This internship offers a stipend.

Internship Experiences:

  • Compiling new clips in user-friendly fashion and distribute to public affairs team
  • Add clips to 2017 Visibility Calendar
  • Learn how to update press releases on website
  • Issue media passes via public affairs email address and forward any response to staff
  • Check media line and add comments to spreadsheet tracker
  • Assist with media memo compilation
  • Assist in writing of press releases and other media collateral
  • Perform basic research and pulling of media list
  • Become familiar with galleries, collections by viewing museum and attending open meetings and programs
  • Assist Social Media team as needed

Can I apply to more than one internship and/or fellowship?

Yes! In fact, we encourage you to do so!

How does the general internship pool work?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis as opportunities become available. Please know that if an internship does not become available that fits your interests and timeframe, you will not be contacted. If you have a specific interest, you are encouraged to apply for a specific appointment as well.

How competitive are Smithsonian internships and fellowships?

Smithsonian internships and fellowships are very competitive; the Smithsonian receives thousands of applications each year—but don’t let that discourage you from applying. We work to make sure Smithsonian internships are prestigious, but not exclusive.

How long should it take to find out if I received an internship or fellowship?

How long until you receive a response depends on a lot of things: which internship you applied for, the time of year, as well as how many other applicants there are. As a result, it is difficult to say how long it will take to receive a response.

Intern at NMAAHC

You must apply for all Smithsonian internships through the Smithsonian online academic appoint system.